Experience Georgette Heyer's sparkling dialogue in one of her most popular mysteries.
It's no ordinary morning at the Poplars - the master is found dead in his bed and it turns out that his high blood pressure was not the cause of death. Heyer uses her attention to detail and brilliant characterizations to concoct a baffling crime for which every single member of the quarrelsome family has a motive, and none, of course, has an alibi. Heyer's sparkling dialogue is a master class in British wit, sarcasm and the intricacies of life above and below stairs.
Meet the Matthews - before the next one dies...
It's no ordinary morning at the Poplars - the master is found dead in his bed, and it seems his high blood pressure was not the cause. When an autopsy reveals a sinister poison, it's up to the quietly resourceful Inspector Hannasyde to catch the murderer in time to spare the next victim. But every single member of the quarrelsome Matthews family has a motive and none, of course, has an alibi.
PRAISE FOR BEHOLD, HERE'S POISON:
"Miss Heyer's characters and dialogue are an abiding delight to me... I have seldom met people to whom I have taken so violent a fancy from the word 'Go.'"
Dorothy L. Sayers
"The wittiest of detective writers."
"The ingredients are so well and carefully mixed, the writing is so bright, and the solution so unexpected that the book achieves success and remains one no reader can fail to enjoy."
"A marvelous melange of malice, murder, mystery, and mirth. Priceless!"
Behold, Here's Poison features one the most creative weapons in murder-mystery history, and is my favorite of the three Heyer novels we've reviewed in the past week. Why Shoot a Butler? and The Unfinished Clue are wonderful... but [SPOILER!] there's just something special about a story featuring poisoned toothpaste.
Originally published in 1936, Behold, Here's Poison opens at the Poplars, the country home of the Matthews family. When the head of the family, Gregory Matthews, is found dead, his family assumes his bad heart is to blame. But when the police discover signs of nicotine poisoning in the dead man's mouth, the surviving Matthews--Gregory's two sisters, his sister-in-law, and his niece and nephews--become the lead suspects in Scotland Yard Inspector Hannasyde's newest murder case.
While Heyer provides several plot-based red herrings, most of this novel is driven by its characters. Behold, Here's Poison features a host of memorable creations, including domineering Aunt Gertrude, the magnificently hypocritical Mrs. Zo� Matthews, whose unfailing sweetness imperfectly conceals her total self-absorption, and her malicious nephew Randall, whose poisonous tongue does conceal a soft spot for one of his cousins.
As longtime readers of the site know, we have always wished for a Georgette Heyer television adaptation--but while Behold, Here's Poison is one of our favorite Heyers, it is not the title we would choose for TV. This is a story about people, not events, and most of its plot points develop during seemingly insignificant domestic conversations. It isn't the kind of thing that results in edge-of-your-seat television, but it makes for a deliciously voyeuristic reading experience.
Reading Extravaganza Lilianna Swistek
Am I the only person on Earth who up until yesterday didn't know what Georgette Heyer had been capable of producing with her writing talent? I had surely felt like that for quite some time before I actually picked up Behold, Here's Poison to see what the ruckus was all about. And I have to say that the fact I had not heard about Ms. Heyer seems now to be verging on abomination.
Behold, Here's Poison is one of mystery books written by Heyer and yes, there are more genres that this author was very skilled at writing. It is what one might call a cozy mystery. The action of the book revolves around the murder of George Matthews, a master of the Poplars where he lived with his sister, Miss Matthews, his sister-in-law, Mrs. Matthews, and her two children, Stella and Guy. Mr. Matthews is found dead one morning in his bed and upon closer examination it turns out that the cause of his death was poison and not his high blood pressure. Of course no one in the house accepts this fact easily even though everyone seems quite glad that the master is dead, including family members living outside the Poplars, Mrs. Lupton and a new head of the family, Randall Matthews. And everyone, as it turns out, may have benefited from his untimely death. That's when Inspector Hannasyde steps in to try and untangle the web of secrets and find the murderer.
Hats off to Georgette Heyer! She is now my most favorite author and I am only glad that I have so many more books of her waiting for me to delight in. This book got me hooked from the first pages and I was laughing out loud by page 10. The Matthews family is absolutely hilarious with Miss Matthews and Mrs. Lupton leading the way. It's amazing how witty and clever the dialogue is and quite refreshing after many books where all you read is slang and cursing. The way the whole book is written just gave me this feeling of unadulterated pleasure and I am positive that when I wasn't laughing I had a grin on my face all the while reading. Yes, it is a classic whodunit where everyone has a motive and no one has a solid alibi. But above all the elements that are necessary to create a perfect murder mystery, Ms. Heyer also created wonderful characters, some quite simple, some outrageously funny and others very unlikable, but none of them boring. The fact that the author made me start accusing people from one character to another and then back to the original, until I just gave up trying to guess, was simply icing on my favorite cake. All I have to say to the ones who have not yet read any of Heyer's books (if indeed there are such unfortunates), don't despair and waste your time looking for a perfect book. Instead delve right into the world of Behold, Here's Poison.
As it appeared quite clear in my review of Behold, Here's Poison, I have become a fan of Georgette Heyer. Now I know that it's only one book but her writing talent shone through enough to convince me. As any respectable fan, I promptly proceeded to feed my Heyer bug with another one of her mystery books, The Unfinished Clue.
The premise of The Unfinished Clue is the murder of Sir Arthur Billington-Smith in his country house. The book starts off with a promising, friendly weekend with quite a few people attending. Apparently, Sir Arthur is a highly disliked figure by all of the guests and members of the family living nearby. He is abusive towards his young wife Fay, he hates his son Geoffrey, whom he ends up disinheriting for being engaged to Miss Silva, a Spanish dancer with questionable character for a proper English lady, and besides Mrs. Camilla Halliday, Sir Arthur has something negative to say about pretty much everyone around him. No wonder they all hate him. One of these people hates him enough to kill him. And with the violent death of Sir Arthur the fun begins. Obviously everyone has a reason to murder him and not even the persons with alibis are beyond suspicion. Inspector Harding from Scotland Yard makes sure that this difficult case will get solved.
I have to say that for me it's just impossible to not like Heyer's writing. I don't even put so much importance on the murder mystery as on the dialogue and the characterization. I loved the ladies' snappy and quite often cruel remarks always disguised as polite, so as not to step outside of the decorum. It was really very witty and funny. All the characters, including the secondary ones, have so much depth surprisingly, and are so vividly portrayed that I can just imagine myself sitting amongst them all and forming opinions of who would be my friend, who I would cross words with and so forth. This is not to say that the plot was of no interest to me. I was absolutely and completely engaged in trying to solve this murder mystery ahead of Inspector Harding, and not surprisingly, I failed. The ending was quite unexpected and that's what made The Unfinished Clue all the more delicious. This delightful book is, in my humble opinion, a perfect remedy for a gloomy mood and a thing to enjoy on a summer day at the beach (just make sure you put a lot of SPF on, as there's a danger you might forget all about it as you start reading).
Passages to the Past Amy Bruno
Most of you are aware of my love for Georgette Heyer, so it's probably no surprise that I couldn't resist trying out one of her mystery novels. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed! I do believe that this woman could make a grocery list read witty!
Behold, Here's Poison is an entertaining little murder mystery with a "Clue" sort of vibe to it. The characters are a little wacky, but in a delightful and amusing way. There's the outrageously thrifty Miss Matthews, moocher extraordinaire Mrs. Matthews and her spawn...and then there's Mr. Randall Matthews, newly made head of the family. I fell in love with his quick tongue and smart remarks...made me laugh out loud a few times, drawing odd looks from my husband!
The Book Zombie Joanne Mosher
Behold, Here's Poison was by far my favorite of the three Georgette Heyer mysteries I read. And it's not even the mystery aspect that was all that great - it was the characters! It's got that wonderful sort of cliche feeling to it. Head of the family living in a grand old mansion, while all the assorted relatives (who basically despise, envy, belittle) one another all stand around trying to wiggle in and get whatever they can. By the middle of the book I couldn't have cared less about who poisoned Greg Matthews, I was enjoying the characters and their conversations too much. They were all naturals at throwing out perfectly timed comebacks, smiling while cutting down others, and basically being asses. Completely entertaining.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
February 01, 2009
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer
Excerpt from Chapter One of Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer
It was going to be a fine day. There was a white mist curling away in wreaths over the Heath that told Mary, standing on the half-landing with the dustpan in her hand, and gazing out through the tall window, that it would be sunny and really warm by lunch-time. She would be able to wear the blue voile after all, in spite of Rose's gloomy forebodings. Rose said that it always rained on anybody's half-day. Well, it wasn't going to rain today, not if Mary knew the signs.
She leaned up against the window, watching the mist, approving the heavy dew that lay like a grey sheet over the lawn in front of the house.
It was early. The Heath, which later on would be scattered over with children, and nurses pushing perambulators, seemed quite deserted, nor was there any traffic upon the road that lay between the iron gates of the Poplars and the edge of the Heath. Craning her neck, Mary could obtain a glimpse of the next-door house through a gap in the trees.
Curtains still drawn on the backstairs, she noted. Well, she didn't blame the girls at Holly Lodge, she was sure. If your master and mistress went away to the seaside you were entitled to take your ease. Not but what those girls were a lazy lot of sluts, come to think of it. Common, too. Like mistress like maid, said Rose, and that was true enough. She wasn't any class, Mrs Rumbold.
Mary turned her head, transferring her gaze from Holly Lodge to the house on the other side of the Poplars. It was a smaller house, and she could not see much of it, but she noticed that the garage doors were open. That meant that the doctor had been called out early. It was a shame the way people sent for the doctor at all hours, and half the time for nothing more serious than an attack of indigestion, so Miss Stella said. A real gentleman he was, too, and ever so handsome! She didn't wonder at Miss Stella being sweet on him. It was a pity the Master had taken such a dislike to him. For they all knew in the servants' hall that he had, just as they knew about the trouble with Mr Guy, who wanted money for that queer business he ran with that Mr Brooke, and whom the Master wanted to send off to South America. You'd have to be a pretty fool if you didn't know most of what was going on in this house, what with the Master going in off the deep end and the doctor being called in for his Blood Pressure; and Miss Harriet coming out with bits of talk to anybody, even the kitchen-maid; Mrs Matthews taking to her bed because of all the worry about poor Mr Guy; and Mr Guy himself talking it all over with Miss Stella without so much as bothering to see if anyone was listening. Oh no, there were precious few secrets at the Poplars! Too many people cooped up together, thought Mary, vigorously sweeping the last six stairs. It never did to have two families under the same roof : there was bound to be a lot of squabbling, especially when you got an old girl like Miss Harriet behaving sometimes as though she was downright simple, and at other times showing you she was as sharp as a needle, and as mean as - Mary couldn't think of anything as mean as Miss Harriet. Potty, that's what she was. You'd only got to see her collecting all the little bits of soap left over, and using them up herself, just as though she hadn't a penny to bless herself with. Regular old magpie, she was. Now, Mrs Matthews wasn't like that, give her her due. She was a nuisance all right, what with her glasses of hot water, and trays up to her room, but she wasn't one to go poking her nose into store-cupboards. You didn't really mind running round after Mrs Matthews, waiting on her hand and foot like she expected, because she always spoke nicely, and behaved like a lady. Nor you didn't mind Miss Stella, neither, in spite of the way she never put anything away, and was always wanting you to do things for her which weren't your work at all, properly speaking. And Mr Guy was that handsome it was a pleasure to wait on him. But when it came to Miss Harriet and the Master things were different. It was queer them being brother and sister, thought Mary, going slowly upstairs again to collect all the shoes which had been put out to be cleaned. Not a bit alike, they weren't. Mrs Lupton, now, from Fairview, over the other side of the Heath, you'd know anywhere for the Master's sister. She had the same domineering ways, though you weren't scared of her like you were scared of the Master. With the Master things had to be just as he wanted them, or there was trouble, and when the Master was angry you felt as though your knees were stuffed with cotton-wool. They were all of them scared of him, reflected Mary, picking up his shoes from outside his bedroom-door; even Mrs Matthews, though if anyone could
get round him she could.
Mrs Matthews' shoes were the next to be collected, high-heeled, expensive shoes with Bond Street written all over them, thought Mary, pausing to admire them. The money Mrs Matthews must spend on her clothes! That was a sure sign she knew how to manage the Master, because it was common knowledge that her husband (him as was the Master's youngest brother) had left her pretty badly off. Good job for her she was so nice-looking and attractive, because though you couldn't ever call the Master mean you wouldn't catch him providing for a sister-in-law he didn't like, having her and her children to live with him, and all.
Yes, and didn't it get under Miss Harriet's skin, them being in the house and behaving as though money was no object like they did, thought Mary, picking up Miss Matthews' lowheeled, trodden-over shoes of black glace, and tucking them under her arm. There wasn't much love lost between her and Mrs Matthews, though to do her justice the old skinflint seemed to like Mr Guy and Miss Stella well enough.
Suede shoes outside Mr Guy's door; smart, they were, but a nuisance to clean. She'd have to do them, she supposed, because the under-gardener would be sure to put polish on them by mistake.
And lastly Miss Stella's shoes, two pairs of them, the brogues she wore on the Heath, and the blue kid shoes she went to town in.
She put all the shoes in her apron, and carried them down the back stairs to the scullery. Cook, Mrs Beecher, was in the kitchen, and called her in for a cup of tea. It made all the difference to you, thought Mary, being in a place where the cook was good-tempered. She went into the kitchen, and took her place at the table between Beecher and Rose. Rose was sitting with her elbows on the table, and her cup between her hands, eagerly recounting what had passed between the Master and Miss Stella in the library last night.