Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer

Frank Amberly had gotten lost on his way to Greythorne. As he drove down a strange road, he saw a car parked by the side of the road, and there was a young women standing next to it. He stopped and asked if he could be of assistance. She said no, but then Amberly noticed what looked like a bullet hole in the windshield. He took a closer look in the car, and saw a man's dead body in the driver's seat. The young woman had a gun which had not been fired, but this gun was quite persuasive in getting Amberly to turn his car around and go in the other direction. He stopped at the local police headquarters and told them what he had seen, and then proceeded to Greythorne.

Greythorne was the substantial home of his aunt Marion and uncle, Sir Humphrey, and their daughter, Felicity. The family, the Fountains, at Norton Manor were friends of Frank and Felicity. Joan Fountain was engaged to marry Tony Cockran. Basil Fountain was the current owner of Norton Manor and was a rather glum person.  It turned out that the murdered man, was Dawson, the butler of the Fountains at Norton Manor. This, of course, raised the question of "Why shoot a butler?" This is not the sort of murder which occurs in English mystery novels of this period.

Frank was an amateur detective who had had quite a success in a previous case, and the police asked him to take a look at the problem of the murdered butler. Frank found the woman who had been standing near the car. She was Shirley Brown who was living at Ivy Cottage with her alcoholic brother Mark.  They seemed to have dealings with Collins who was a footman at Norton Manor and who appeared quite suspicious to Frank. Another death would occur before Frank could finally answer the question of Why Shoot a Butler.

This book was published 1933 by Georgette Heyer. Though she was mainly noted for writing Regency romance novels, she wrote quite literate and witty mystery novels. These books make enjoyable reading for fans of Agatha Christie and British county house mysteries.

I have read this book for the 2018 Golden Just the Facts, Ma'am mystery challenge. It will be entered in my detective notebook in the category of  Who - an amateur detective.