Well, why not?

I'm back, after a wonderful holiday featuring Puffins in Hay-on-Wye...

...including one I'd been trying to find for a VERY long time (The wheel on the school by Meindert DeJong), and then there were yet more puffins, this time of the feathered variety...
...courtesy of the magical island of Skomer, which has to be visited to be believed - a truly incredible place, with puffins who can stare down the boldest of paparazzi.

So, lots of catching up to do with reads, and so to begin...Why shoot a butler? by Georgette Heyer. I quite like Heyer's Regency romances, the few of her detective novels I've read, I've loved, so I settled down to a happy read of one of her early mysteries - Why shoot a butler?, first published in 1933.

When a loyal family retainer is found murdered on a lonely road near a plush pad, no-one, least of all the police, has any idea why he's been so brutally despatched. Barrister, Frank Amberley, though is determined to do his bit for a maiden in distress, whether or not she needs or wants his help.

Oh dear...never mind "why shoot a butler"; within a few pages I wanted to shoot the author, and a fair number of the characters. Heyer has a great heroine, who is brilliant throughout the novel, until the obligatory "Reader she married him [or almost certainly will in the near future]" ending when she becomes weak, feeble and very much in lurve with the (probably) tall, dark and handsome, and, of course, strong and unbelievably intelligent, Frank Amberley. The police think he's patronising, if clever, and want to punch him, I wasn't sure if he was clever, I knew he was patronising, and I sympathised with the police (that must be my first in detective fiction, where usually I love the amateur sleuth).

The novel veered between moments of hilarity (most of them unintentioned), and those moments, most unnerving to a book-lover, when you just want to hurl the offending volume across the room. This was a truly dreadful example of cliched Golden Age writing at its very worst. If you want a hint of what a good crime writer Heyer could be try her 1939 novel No wind of blame, but unless you're looking for a good giggle and the occasional groan, please avoid the very terrible Why shoot a butler? The only good thing about it was the dog (and there wasn't enough of him!)


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