Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Duplicate Death: Review
I'm in the home stretch of my Georgette Heyer Reading Challenge. Even thought it's a perpetual challenge, it feels good to know that I'll be finishing it up this year. Just finished Duplicate Death last night and have started They Found Him Dead (last one!). If I had paid attention to publication dates, I would have reversed the order--because these two novels are almost companion pieces. We meet some of the central characters in They Found Him Dead and it would have been nice to read the books in chronological order. Ah well...maybe on my next read-through.
Duplicate Death centers on double death that begins at a cut-throat night of duplicate bridge at the home of a not quite top drawer member of society. No one is really quite sure how Mrs. Haddington managed to win the good graces of Lady Nest and with them an entrance into society. But there she is and there she plans to stay. She's got a beautiful daughter to launch and she's scheming to land her a suitable husband (read rich and titled). She invites a houseful of guests for a night of bridge play....but they certainly didn't expect it to turn into a game of murder.
When one of the guests steps away from the game to take an expected phone call, his tablemates become a bit restless when he does not return within a reasonable amount of time. It is discovered that someone has cut his game short....permanently. Daniel Seaton-Carew is discovered, strangled with picture wire around his neck. There are a limited number of the guests who were not tied to a bridge table during the crucial minutes....and it is up to Inspectors Hemingway and Grant to sift through the motives and movements and try to identify the guilty party. Things become more complicated when Mrs. Haddington herself is found strangled in the same room and in a similar manner a few days later. The crimes look the same...but have they been committed by the same hand?
This mystery is a bit of a mixed bag for me. There is some very witty dialogue and some engaging characters. I particularly like Timothy Harte and his brother James Kane--both of whom are in They Found Him Dead. Inspectors Hemingway and Grant are, as always, great fun to follow as they scoop up clues and interview folks. The major jarring point is Hemingway's very prominent attitude towards homosexuals in this one. I don't remember it being so pronounced in other novels...but then I don't remember it being quite so obvious to me when I read it before. But, that aside, this is a very interesting mystery that keeps the pages turning and the reader guessing. Three and a half stars.