Monday, April 08, 2019

They Found Him Dead

They Found Him Dead. Georgette Heyer. 1937/2019. Sourcebooks. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Miss Allison thought that Silas Kane’s sixtieth-birthday party was going off rather better than anyone had imagined it would.

Premise/plot: If you're looking for a mystery novel with QUIRKY characters and multiple murders to solve, then They Found Him Dead should be your next read.

This mystery novel is vibrant and busy! Silas Kane died on his sixtieth birthday party--a tragic accident, so everyone believes except for the exuberant Timothy! He sees MYSTERY and CRIME everywhere he looks. But when Silas Kane's heir, Clement, is murdered just a short time later, others join Timothy in thinking that there is a killer in their midst! Jim Kane is the next heir, and Timothy and Miss Allison are worried that he'll be the next victim. And it appears the danger is very real as several attempts are made on his life...

Can Inspector Hannasyde and Inspector Hemingway solve the case in time? Will Timothy be a big help or a hindrance?

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved, LOVED this one. It may just be my favorite mystery novel by Georgette Heyer. And while it won't be replacing Daughter in Time by Josephine Tey as my all-time favorite-and-best mystery novel, it is certainly making the list of my favorite mystery novels. I think I can say that I love this one more than most Agatha Christie novels--though I'd have to reread them to see if any can top it.

What did I love about They Found Him Dead? The characterization!!! If you want to win my heart--authors pay attention--it's through characterization. I am all about the characters. This one offers characters to love and characters to love to hate. (For the record, I love, love, love Patricia Allison, Jim Kane, and Timothy Harte. I do not love the attention-seeking Rosemary--Clement Kane's cheating wife.)

It's been just enough time since I first read They Found Him Dead (2013) that I could not remember exactly WHO did it--which was an ideal way to reread it. It was an intense read for me. I kept muttering please don't let it be...please don't let it be... This is something I usually never do since I don't get super-attached to characters most of the time.


Rosemary talking to Clement:
It’s almost as though there’s a providence that steps in when one’s almost desperate. Like that thing Mummy took up last year. Right Thought, or something, where you simply fix your mind on what you want, and utterly believe it’ll come to you, and it does, as long as you don’t do anything about it.’ Clement felt doubtful whether the exponents of whatever this odd creed might be would relish Rosemary’s description of it. Nor did he feel that fixing one’s mind upon the death of a relative could really be called Right Thought. He ventured to say so, but quite mildly, and added that, though he quite understood what Rosemary meant, he thought she should be careful of what she said. One would not like to seem callous.
Timothy on the investigation:
Timothy snorted. ‘I don’t call it making proper inquiries just to ask people where they were, and not to try to prove they weren’t there at all. Why, they didn’t even ask Jim, and he was at the party.’
‘Leave the boy alone,’ said Emily. ‘He’s entitled to his opinion as much as you are to yours. So my son was murdered, was he, Timothy?’ ‘Well, I don’t absolutely know he was,’ replied Timothy with a touch of caution, ‘but I do think it looks jolly suspicious. What’s more, I’m pretty sure Mr Roberts thinks so too.’
‘Who was it who said all along it was murder? You know jolly well it was me! I bet some people are feeling pretty silly now, that’s all!’

Allison on Rosemary:
What sympathy she felt was for Clement and for Trevor Dermott, both helpless in the snare of Rosemary’s beauty, but her pity for them was charged with contempt. She thought them fools to be slaves to Rosemary.
Miss Allison fixed her gaze upon the prospect outside, and thought of all the painful ways there might be of killing Mrs Clement Kane.
 Rosemary talking to Allison:
She sighed. ‘I suppose you want to go to bed. I don’t a bit. I feel as though every nerve in my body was stretched taut. Do you ever get like that?’ ‘Often,’ said Miss Allison.
General quotes:
‘Any ideas on the subject?’ he said. ‘That’s a large question, Mr Kane. Guess we can all of us have ideas, but believe you me, there’s more harm done spreading them about than by keeping them to yourself.’
‘There are two kinds of witnesses I’ve got it in for. There’s the one that says too little, and the one that says too much. You don’t get any forrader with the first, and you get too far with the second.’ ‘Then you won’t like this case,’ said Hannasyde. ‘We’ve got both.’ He smiled a little. ‘The old lady says she supposes I don’t need her to help me solve the problem.’
‘To my way of thinking, a nice young fellow like James Kane doesn’t waltz about murdering his relations.’ ‘I agree; but there’s also the question of motive to be taken into account. He had more than anyone else.’ ‘Too much,’ said the Sergeant briskly. ‘He’s what I might call dripping with motive. I’ve a strong idea, myself, that what we want to look for is something a bit more recherché.
‘A proper mess, that’s what this case is. We don’t know where it started, and if Terrible Timothy’s right, we don’t know where it’s going to end. You don’t know where to take hold of it, that’s what I complain of. It’s more like my missus’s skein of knitting wool, after one of the kittens has had it, than a decent murder case. I mean, you get hold of one end and start following it up, and all it leads to is a damned knot worked so tight you can’t do a thing with it. Then you grab hold of the other end, and start on that, and what you find is that it’s a bit the kitten chewed through that just comes away in your hand, with the rest of the wool in as bad a muddle as ever. 
‘Not prejudiced,’ said the Sergeant firmly. ‘I never let myself get prejudiced. All I say is, that he’s a nasty, slimy, double-faced tick who’d murder his own grandmother if he saw a bit of money to be got out of it.’ ‘Very moderate,’ said Hannasyde, smiling.
‘I do wish you’d try to get it out of your head that I suspect Jim Kane any more than I suspect any of the others. I don’t. I suspect him a good deal less than I suspect some, but I try to be impartial. Have a shot at it yourself.’
Timothy and the detective(s):
‘There’s a lot in it,’ replied the Sergeant gravely. ‘But it’s got a weak spot. That’s what you must learn to do if you’re going to be a detective: find the weak spots in your own theories.’
‘Well, I’m not going to be a detective. My mother wants me to be an explorer. Actually, I expect I shall be a barrister, because if you’re an explorer you seem to me to go to the most lousy places, and muck about with camels and things. I like cars. Oh, I say, what is the weak spot in my theory?’

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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