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Penhallow (1942)

by Georgette Heyer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Country House Mysteries (10)

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6592236,026 (3.06)72
Hated for his cruel and vicious nature, ruling his family with an iron hand from his sickbed, tyrannical patriarch Adam Penhallow is found murdered the day before his birthday. His entire family had assembled for his birthday celebration, and every one of them had the ways and means to commit the crime. As accusation and suspicion turn in one direction, then another, the claws and backstabbing come out, and no one is exempt from the coming implosion.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Old patriarch, Adam Penhallow, yet ruling his family and his Cornish roost with an iron hand from his sickbed. The death of menacing old man, on the eve of his birthday, seems at first to be by natural causes. He was elderly after all. But Penhallow wasn't well liked. Tyrannical Penhallow had ruled over his estate with an iron will and sharp tongue, playing one relative against another. He was so bad tempered and mean that both servants and kin cause to hate him for his cruel and vicious nature.

It soon transpires that far from being a peaceful death, Penhallow was, in fact, murdered, poisoned. And there are more than a dozen prime suspects. With his entire family had assembled for his birthday celebration, and servants that both feared and despised him, there are more than a dozen prime suspects. Every one of them had the ways and means to commit the crime. But which one of them turned hatred into murder? As accusation and suspicion turn in one direction, then another, the claws and backstabbing come out, and no one is exempt from the coming implosion. ( )
  Karen74Leigh | Jul 12, 2023 |
Adam Penhallow is a tyrant, an aging tyrant, but a wicked one just the same. He rules Trevellin with an iron fist, delighting in forcing his numerous grown children (legitimate and not) to do his bidding, which more often than not involves humiliating them, and his behaviour toward his timid second wife is simply appalling. Little wonder then, that when he is found murdered on the morning of his birthday, the remaining family members can all think of reasons for themselves, and each other, to have killed him; but who could it actually have been?.... This is considered one of Georgette Heyer’s “country house” mysteries, although there is little mystery involved - the murder doesn’t occur until well into the second half of the book, and the reader knows exactly who it is. No, this is far more in the way of being a multiple-character study, in which the various personalities of the numerous people involved in the household expose their true natures when under threat. There are really only two characters who are what one might call reasonably good people (and I’ll leave it to other readers to decide whom I mean and if they agree), but the interactions between all of them are simply fascinating to read. Being half-Cornish myself, I’m a bit peeved that this is set in Cornwall because it tends to give my people a bad name, but really this is an excellent book - just don’t expect it to be a mystery, is all! Highly recommended. ( )
  thefirstalicat | Aug 12, 2022 |
Not the best of the Heyer detective novels. Nothing by this author is less than well written but Penhallow sits awkwardly among the lighter, wittier offerings. It has the gothic romance feel of a historical novel, rather than a detective story. The murder such as it is is almost overlooked among a wealth of characterization, and unfortunately not one of the characters is likeable. There are too many reasons to dislike the victim and every member of the household, to invest in any of them. it's still worth the read but I prefer all her other books. ( )
  Germoorkensbyrne | Jan 4, 2022 |
I started out expecting a Regency Romance and then thought I was in a Christie style English Country House murder but what it finally turned out to be was something rather different. The murderer is never in question, it was much more of a taut psychological novel of characters. A few of the characters were just crude (and dated) caricatures but Ray was particularly well-drawn and his fate perhaps the only really sad part of the novel. Otherwise, she did a great job of making truly awful people come to life.
  amyem58 | Feb 13, 2021 |
Not much happens until about twelve chapters in so the first half of the book is fairly hard going. Interesting and unusual ending. Actions have consequences, but perhaps not what was expected. I just wish there had been at least one likeable character and a little less “blah blah blah” in the beginning. ( )
  michdubb | Aug 26, 2020 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Georgette Heyerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Birvé, UlliNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herrera, Ulla H. deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marchant, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
A man that apprehends death no more dreadfully but as
a drunken sleep; careless, reckless, and fearless of what's
past, present, or to come; insensible of mortality, and
desperately mortal.
Measure for Measure Act iv Scene 2
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Jimmy the Bastard was cleaning boots, in a stone-paved room at the back of the house which commanded, through its chamfered windows, a view of the flagged yard, of a huddle of outhouses, and a glimpse, caught between the wing of the manor and the woodshed, of one of the paddocks where Raymond had some of his young stock out to grass.
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Hated for his cruel and vicious nature, ruling his family with an iron hand from his sickbed, tyrannical patriarch Adam Penhallow is found murdered the day before his birthday. His entire family had assembled for his birthday celebration, and every one of them had the ways and means to commit the crime. As accusation and suspicion turn in one direction, then another, the claws and backstabbing come out, and no one is exempt from the coming implosion.

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