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The second last in my 2011 project of reading all of Georgette Heyer s mysteries, this was a fun read It s an old fashioned mystery of the locked room kind, complete with an old house, cantankerous victim, eccentric suspects and plenty of red herrings Heyer is not, in my view, the most talented of British Golden Age mystery writers To my mind, that accolade goes to Dorothy L Sayers, although a number of other writers of the period also deserve high praise That said, a Heyer mystery has its attractions This one, like the others, has lots of style and is easy and undemanding to read It also has some snappy dialogue and witty one liners as well as an obligatory romance While I guessed the identity of the culprit with luck rather than through a deductive process , I didn t work out how the murder was done until seconds before the big reveal This was a plus, because there s nothing I hate in crime fiction than solving the mystery before the detective has come even close to working it out I re read a number of Heyer s romances fairly regularly They are amongst my favourite comfort reads While I may not read the mysteries again, I ve had lots of fun with them over the past few months It has been particularly good to tackle this one as a buddy read with my friend Jemidar Recommended for Heyer completists and fans of British Golden Age crime fiction For me this is was a 3 1 2 star read. I read all of GH s mystery suspense books other than Footsteps in the Dark many years ago At the time my favourite was Death in the Stocks, but I have just read these two back to back my new favourite is Envious Casca.Before I start my review I ll just get two things out of the way Many reviewers in many reviews of GH s books here have mentioned her fondness for recycling characters it has never been obvious than in comparing these two novels Stephen is an even unpleasant Kenneth Vereker, Violet becomes Valerie This time The Good Sort is the breeder of Bull Terriers not The Sister Did GH only like this particular breed of dog maybe reading Mary Stewart s again has highlighted it so I m seeing it everywhere, but GH was a smoker herself smoking features heavily in this book Changed times now, where you don t see boxes of cigarettes on tables for your guests to help themselves to that would now be a recipe for bankruptcy I can t remember seeing anyone use a cigarette holder since the 70s it looked affected even then What I loved about the book was her character actors or dramatis personae as Hemingway would say GH clearly had a lot of fun with bumbling Joseph, blank page Maude, overbearing Mummy the glacially correct Sturry By GH s standards this was a well constructed mystery although view spoiler if you know the history of Elizabeth of Austria you have a bit of an advantage hide spoiler Damn it, he was in here with the door locked Stephen said He can t have been stabbedI think Heyer wrote a story about people she hated in real life, relished and had a hell of a time making them an exaggerated version vapid, insipid, and whiney but oh so highly quotable This is second in the Inspector Hemingway series and god love the man for the testimonies and evidence he has to shift through to discover the killer As a locked door mystery, it s pretty good The cast of characters is varied but small enough to keep track of and most work as plausible red herrings, I was wrong with my first guess as to who the villain was The first half is mostly setting the scene with introductions and glimpses into characters personalities and hints to possible murder motivations as they arrive to the house party The second half is where the murder occurs and the whodunit gets going It s a bit slow going as first the sergeant and then Inspector Hemingway arriving on the scene talk to everyone but then the clues start rolling in and the story starts to make headway How the murder occurs was a little goofy but I would classify this as a cozy mystery with some romance inspirations sprinkled in, so it s all in good fun.The following quote is a bit of a spoiler and my little comment after it, you d know who ends up pairing up and probably figure out two characters who aren t the killer Beware You can pick back up at the Bonus Lest you forget this is a Heyer and those romance inspirations I was talking about, He pulled her rather roughly into his arms O God, Mathilda, do keep me in order he said, in a suddenly thickened voice I need you I need you damnably She found that her own voice was unsteady I know You are such a fool, Stephen such a dear impossible fool So are you, to care a damn for me, he said I never thought you did I can t think why you do She took his face between her hands, looking up at him a little mistily I like savage creatures Bull terriers and Stephen HerriardHey, you leave bull terriers out of this I had a contentious relationship with Stephen but he, somewhat, redeemed himself in the end But seriously, bless her heart and all the Mathildas in the world who take these men on.Bonus Heyer provides us with your next time you want to leave work early excuse If someone accidentally brushes up against you Nathaniel at once became a cripple He said My lumbago Damn you, don t do that and tottered to a chair, one hand to the small of his back and his manly form bent with suffering. Lumbago Works every time. Having read, and enjoyed, No Wind of Blame, the first Inspector Hemingway mystery, I was keen to read the second A Christmas Party, is also known by the title, Envious Casca, and has a similar, light and humorous touch to it, as the first mystery did At Lexham Manor, Nathaniel Herriard lives with his brother, Joseph, and Joseph s wife, Maud Joseph has planned a family reunion for Christmas, although there is not really much goodwill to all men, or family members, emanating from Nathaniel It is clear, in fact, that this party is very much the wish of Joseph alone, who seems keen to try to get the young people, together for Christmas Guests include Nathanial s niece, Paula, who wants her uncle to back a play she wishes to appear in and who has brought the playwright, a young man called Willoughby, as her guest Paula s brother, Stephen, has also arrived, along with his pretty, but vacuous fianc , Valerie There is also distant cousin, Mathilda and Nathanial s business partner, Edgar Nathanial is a difficult and argumentative man, who has rows with his business partner, objects to his nephew s fianc and understandably resents having a play he is not interested in read aloud to him over Christmas When he is killed, there are a plethora of suspects and quite a few motives, revolving around the important issue of who inherits Nathanial s fortune.I really enjoyed this, although I did not think it was as good as the previous Hemingway book, for the simple reason that the culprit was, in my mind, fairly obvious I am hopeless at spotting whodunnit, so, if I was sure of who was responsible, then I m pretty sure most other readers would be too Still, an enjoyable read and should your own relatives drive you crazy at Christmas you can read this and know you are not alone is objecting to having to socialise during the festive season Personally, I felt deeply for poor Maud, who just wanted to sit by the fire and read her book What a delight This country house, locked room mystery is a clever and savagely funny puzzle that is set during the Christmas season How can you not enjoy a mystery that has a library book as one of the major clues to solving the murder I d definitely like to read Inspector Hemingway stories by Georgette Heyer in the future. Heyer is usually funnier than this.The clever young man is a stock character of Heyer s almost every mystery of hers has one, whether clownish, sarcastic, socially inappropriate, or merely ill behaved Usually he is in love with the pleasant but not alluring young woman character who is clearly innocent of the crime view spoiler This is no exception the only surprise is anyone actually liking the jerk back hide spoiler Rating Clarification 3.5 StarsMy final Heyer mystery, and while not a personal favorite like Why Shoot a Butler , it was certainly up to par with almost all other Heyer whodunnits This is a true locked room murder in every sense of the word, and while I figured out the who of the crime pretty early on, I never did figure out the how until the final reveal.As usual with Heyer s stories, her cast of characters fulfill every ic I can think of eccentric, acerbic, and sarcastic, and if her characters do come across in every book as interchangable stereotypes which they do , at least they are well done stereotypes the kind you would enjoy spending a few hours of reading time with.All in all, I m pleased with my Heyer whodunnit reading adventure and look forward to re reads in the distant future perhaps in my retirement years D Two things that will alert the reader to the resolution of the murder do not read the spoilers below unless you really want to be ahead of the game 1 view spoiler The clever title of the book Did anyone really know what Envious Casca meant when they started this book hide spoiler Murder at Christmas hasn t it crossed everyone s mind There may be even motives in this family gathering than in your own, though At the estate of crabby old Uncle Nathaniel, a disparate assortment of relatives and their even bizarre significant others assemble to spend an awkward Christmas, made even awkward by the unflagging cheerfulness of Uncle Matthew, who wants to put up tacky decorations and play parlor games Naturally someone is murderedbut murdered without a weapon in a room locked from the inside The how is as interesting as the who , but the real charm of this book is in Heyer s characterizations of all the loopy relatives. The Hook Tis the season The Line sIt was Joseph who had been inspired to organize the house party that was looming over Nathaniel s unwilling head this chill December Joseph, having lived for so many years abroad, hankered wistfully after a real English Christmas Nathaniel, regarding him with a contemptuous eye, said that a real English Christmas meant, in his experience, a series of quarrels between inimical person bound to on another only by the accident of relationship, and thrown together by a worn out convention which decreed that at Christmas families should forgather The Sinker It s the time of year when my heart turns to Christmas stories, generally not the murderous mystery kind and yet somehow this is the second I ve read this season I m a fan of locked room mysteries and this one fits the genre If you read the summary you ll know there s a murder but I m still going to include the next passage in a spoiler view spoiler Nathaniel, the curmudgeon in the quote above is found murdered in his room with all doors and windows locked The six guests of the house are all suspects as one would suspect hide spoiler `DOWNLOAD KINDLE ☆ Envious Casca ↽ Previously Titled Envious Casca Tis The Season To Find Whodunit It Is No Ordinary Christmas At Lexham Manor Six Holiday Guests Find Themselves The Suspects In A Murder Inquiry When The Old Scrooge Who Owns The Substantial Estate Is Found Stabbed In The Back Whilst The Delicate Matter Of Inheritance Could Be The Key To This Crime, The Real Conundrum Is How Any Of The Suspects Could Have Entered The Locked Room Where The Victim Was Found, To Commit This Foul Deed For Inspector Hemingway Of Scotland Yard, The Investigation Is Also Complicated By The Fact That Every Guest At Lexham Manor Is Hiding Something Casting Suspicion Far And Wide