Georgette Heyer is best remembered today as having been virtually the inventor of the Regency Romance genre but she also wrote a dozen or so detective novels. Her fourth detective novel was Death in the Stocks, published in 1935.
A man is found stabbed to death in the middle of the night, in the stocks in the village square. His name is Arnold Vereker. Superintendent Hannasyde will face a number of problems in solving this case, not the least of them being that everybody who knew Arnold Vereker had an excellent motive for wanting to murder him. Even worse, not one of the suspects has an alibi.
An even bigger problem will be the Vereker family. To say they are eccentrics is putting it mildly. Both Arnold’s half-sister Antonia and his half-brother Kenneth are not only delighted he is dead, they are absolutely thrilled to be considered suspects. Antonia is engaged to be married to Rudolph Mesurier, who also had a very strong motive for killing Arnold. There are several other suspects and the case is already shaping up as a major challenge when yet another suspect arrives on the scene, and this new suspect also has no alibi!
Despite the best efforts of their cousin Giles Carrington who is acting as their solicitor Antonia and Kenneth insist on making no serious effort to clear themselves being far too busy sorting out their complicated love lives.
Heyer’s husband apparently wrote the plot outlines for her mystery novels while Heyer herself was more interested in the characters. And it’s the characters and the sparkling dialogue that are the strong points of <em>Death in the Stocks</em>. Judged purely on its plotting it’s nothing special. As a witty social comedy though it’s highly successful.
An enjoyable and very amusing read.