Sunday, January 10, 2010

2. Why Shoot a Butler by Georgette Heyer

Why Shoot a Butler? was written in 1933.  As I read it, I could tell it wasn't contemporary but couldn't really place the era.  It's sort of a timeless book.  Frank Amberley finds a woman standing by a car in which he discovers a dead body.  Being of considerable intellect, he determines the woman, Shirley, didn't commit the crime; but sets out to find who did.  Okay, Frank and Shirley are not names authors use these days for the hero and heroine so that did date the book a bit, plus I could have looked at the cover more closely.  Anyway, Frank is brash, rude and a pain-in-the-butt for the local police; but he always solves the mystery.  He reminded me of Sherlock Holmes in his condescension and his uncanny ability to unravel even the most meager clue.  But his sarcastic remarks are so funny to the reader even if they typically go right over the head of his intended target.   Frank may be quite the cad, but he also showed a soft side to his friends and relatives.  There were some other great characters in this book: Frank's country squire uncle who can't understand the bothers of such unpleasant events as murder; his seemingly dimwitted aunt who is actually very sharp; the police sergeant who almost knows better than to question Frank's opinion and the chief inspector who is always wrong.  Frank Amberly would have been a great movie role for Cary Grant.  I guess we won't get to see that but it would have been fun.  This was a delightful, well-written book with clever repartee and an interesting mystery. 
Rating:  4

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