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Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer

Detection Unlimited (1961)

by Georgette Heyer

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4971120,537 (3.62)26
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Great dust jacket - green, red and black
  jon1lambert | Jun 25, 2014 |
I gather I'm reading this somewhat out of order, in that there are several other books featuring the same detective and this is the last of them (and the last of Georgette Heyer's mysteries as a whole, I believe?). I blame the fact that they're not numbered in any way. Not that I think it much mattered: Chief Inspector Hemingway couldn't really win my heart, given that my fictional detective sweetie is always going to be Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter. But he was fun enough to spend some time with, and I didn't feel that we needed to know too much about him and his personal life.

(Sometimes he drove me a little mad being superior, but I would imagine that's very much down to personal taste.)

I rather enjoyed the slow unwinding of the mystery, though I think maybe I would've preferred the culprit to be someone else, on the grounds that it was so neat -- got the culprit out of the community where they didn't fit in, leaving the community more or less unharmed (but better off for the loss of a singularly unpleasant murder victim and suspect)... I expect a certain degree of neatness in detective stories, because they're artificial, but that whiffed of something like Putting Those Upstarts In Their Place, or something.

Still, while the characters are more or less stereotypical for a little village murder, they're fun as drawn by Heyer, and she certainly has a way with words. I spat my drink out on reading another review here stating that she's not fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Agatha Christie (not those exact words: if you want to find the review, it's easy enough) -- to me, at least, Hayer's books seem less workmanlike, and rather inclined to mock themselves gently in a way I don't remember Christie's doing, a point which I think Christie's fan missed. ( )
  shanaqui | May 23, 2013 |
On the whle, I find Heyer's mysteries less interesting than her Regency romances, though my brother feels the reverse.
  antiquary | Apr 25, 2013 |

First published in 1953, this was the last of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries and the last in my project to read them all. Written in order to pay a tax bill (if I remember correctly from Jennifer Kloester’s excellent biography, [b:Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller|11682876|Georgette Heyer Biography of a Bestseller|Jennifer Kloester|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1328419452s/11682876.jpg|16629116]) the novel has a cast of quirky characters and is full of Heyer's witty dialogue. The plot – a reasonably standard whodunit with a range of possible culprits – is not exactly a page turner but was engaging enough to retain my interest. I didn’t guess the identity of the murderer until just before the penny dropped for Heyer’s entertaining detective Chief Inspector Hemingway, which was a definite plus.

This novel will appeal most to fans of Heyer’s writing and to readers with a fondness for the lighter side of British Golden Age detective fiction, rather than to dedicated readers of contemporary crime novels. However, it was a fun read, made even more fun by reading it with my friend Jemidar – who, clever clogs that she is - picked the culprit well in advance.
( )
  KimMR | Apr 2, 2013 |
I've read and enjoyed quite a few of Heyer's Regency romances, and was curious to try one of her mysteries. Detection Unlimited is actually the fourth in a series featuring Inspector Hemingway, but I didn't feel that not starting at the beginning of the series detracted from my enjoyment of the story. The interest in the book was not really in the character of Hemingway (classic bright Scotland Yard detective sent down to solve a tricky village murder) but in the characters of the village residents, nearly all of whom are suspects in the case - and - strangely - in their dogs, who seem to feature large in this entertaining portrayal of the clashes of large personalities in a small arena.

We are introduced in the first chapter to Mrs Midgeholme who breeds Pekes, all of whom have names beginning with 'U'. The more sensible such names having long since been used on earlier generations, her current pack of tiny bulging-eyed creatures rejoice in such names as Umberto, Umbrella, Untidy, Ullapool and Uppish. A little later we meet Rex, the 'elderly and stout' black labrador who 'advances ponderously' to greet visitors to sensible Miss Patterdale's cottage and appreciates being 'thumped with hearty goodwill'. And there's the Squire's young, untrained Irish setter who effusively welcomes the Inspector, requiring much removal of dog hair from his clothes. These canine characters helped bring the whole setting more fully to life, as well as fleshing out the character of their respective owners.

Another lovely detail was the description of the Sun Inn, where Inspector Hemmingway and his sidekick Harbottle were lodged - 'perhaps the oldest but by no means the most fashionable' pub in the village. The story is set in the post-WWII period when rationing was still in force in England, and the austerity and financial challenges of those post-war years are part of the background of the story - but the Sun appears never to have got round to reading the Rationing Orders, and serves 'high tea reminiscent of an almost forgotten age of plenty':

Meals were not served with elegance, or dignified by menu-cards, but the food itself was excellent, and prepared by a large-minded person. An order for tea was understood by this person to include a plate piled with bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, and chips, three or four kinds of jam, scones, a heavy fruit cake, a loaf of bread, a dish of stewed fruit, and one of radishes.

Altogether a light and entertaining read, more enjoyable for the well-realised setting and the above kinds of details than for the mystery itself. ( )
9 vote gennyt | Nov 12, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Georgette Heyerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ikonen, MirjamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ikonen, T. O.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Liebe, Poul IbTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meunier, DeniseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagenseil, KurtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zamchuka, A. A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zazo, Anna LuisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To all such persons as may imagine that they recognize themselves in it, with the author's assurance that they are mistaken.
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Mr Thaddeus Drybeck, stepping from the neat gravel drive leading from his house on to the road, found his further progress challenged, and, indeed, impeded, by the sudden onrush of Pekinese dogs, who bounced and barked asthmatically about his feet.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099493748, Paperback)

Slumped on a seat under an oak tree is old Sampson Warrenby, with a bullet through his brain. He is discovered by his niece Mavis, who is just one of ten people in the village in the running for chief suspect, having cause to dislike Warrenby intensely. Only Chief Inspector Hemingway can uncover which of the ten has turned hatred into murder.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:45 -0400)

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Chief Inspector Hemingway investigates the murder of village solicitor Sampson Warrenby, a man with an abundance of enemies.

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