Ok, Death in the Stocks was my first encounter with Heyer, and it is entirely possible that her regency romances are sucky. It is also entirely possible that the quirky cast of DitS will drive you mad. But if they DON’T, they will AMUSE YOU NO END.
N’yallright. So a man is found in the stocks one morning (also, murdered) in whatever era had motorcars but in which men still regularly smoked pipes. Ye Olde Inspector heads down to investigate the dead man’s heirs/half-siblings and they have improbably entertaining conversations, and this is 98% the novel. The murdery bit is, like, two pages at the beginning, and then all the answers fall out on the last four or so pages. And those pages to the right keep decreasing and you’re all, The hell? How is this, and then also the other murder that occurs, going to be resolved? Am I going to be ok?
You are. Everything is fine, even though all the detectivity and policeness is almost complete bunk. Please tell me, if you read crime-solvey stuff religiously and then you’ve also read Heyer, are you ROLLING IN YOUR PROVERBIAL GRAVE? I would be. But I’m not, because I am presupposing an alternate universe where police inspectors really are this cavalier.
Besides, I thrive on witty banter and incorrigable characters. I’m not sure how to explain this to you. So, the half-siblings of the murdered man, Kenneth and Antonia, obviously fall under immediate suspicion because they can’t stop saying things like ‘Oh, we loathed Andrew’ and ‘If I had murdered him, I would have done it thus and thusly’ and doing absolutely nothing to keep from looking ALL KINDS OF GUILTY! But then because of that, you (and the police) can’t decide if you should suspect them or not. Are they innocent and stupid or guilty and stupid (or guilty and brilliant)?
And, kay. I suppose that, on reflection, these two kids are eight ways from spoiled. And sort of awful. I hereby preempt you, whoever is about to comment on the spoiledness and awfulness! Because dude, you are correct. And probably this will make some people particularly stabby, but I am not those people! They are so well-written that they can say and do all the retrospectively vile things they want.
Heyer! Let’s be pals.