Source: Review copy from publisher.
Back Cover Description:
One heir after another turns up dead…
Silas Kane's sixtieth birthday party is marred by argument and dissension amongst his family, and then the next morning, Kane is found dead. The coroner's verdict of death by misadventure would seem to confirm that Silas accidentally lost his way in the fog. But then his heir is shot, and threats are made against the next in line to inherit his fortune. The redoubtable Superintendent Hannasyde is called in to investigate. All clues point to an apparently innocuous eighty-year-old woman, but as the Inspector delves further into the case, he discovers that nothing is quite as it seems…
They Found Him Dead is a mystery set in the 1930s in England. I think this is my favorite of the Heyer mysteries that I've read so far. The characters were nicer and less, um, neurotic, than normal, so I actually liked them rather than simply finding them interesting or amusing. The humor in this book was provided by Timothy's youthful ideas and antics regarding the murder. I found all of the characters complex and engaging.
As usual, Heyer introduced a large number of characters at the very beginning, many of whom had non-typical connections to each other. This made for a somewhat slow start as I tried to figure out all the "who is who," but the pacing picked up and was excellent after that.
The mystery was very clever. I did guess correctly who-did-it and why about halfway through, but only because I've read way too many mysteries. And I still thoroughly enjoyed discovering if each new clue supported my theory or not. One thing that I thought particularly clever was that Heyer had her Inspector go through all the possible culprits the same way the reader is so it's not simply a matter of picking the one suspect that no one is looking at closely.
There was very minimal bad language and no sex. Overall, I'd highly recommend this mystery as well-written and entertaining clean reading.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt from Chapter One
Miss Allison thought that Silas Kane's sixtieth birthday party was going off rather better than anyone had imagined it would. Such family gatherings — for the Mansells, through long business partnership with Silas, might almost be ranked as relatives — were, in Miss Allison's sage opinion, functions to be attended in a spirit of considerable trepidation. Nor had this one promised well at its inception. To begin with, Silas was at polite variance with old Joseph Mansell. Their disagreement was purely on a matter of business, but although Joseph Mansell, a husband and a father, had existence outside the offices of Kane and Mansell, Silas and his business were one and indivisible. He was not, at the best of times, a man who contributed largely to the gaiety of an evening party. He was invariably civil, in an old-world style that seemed to suit his neat little imperial and the large stock-ties he wore, and he would listen as patiently to a discussion on Surréalism as to the description of the bird life on the Farne Islands which was being imparted to him at the moment by Agatha Mansell. Both subjects bored him, but he inclined his head with an assumption of interest, smiled kindly and coldly, and said Indeed! or Is that so? at the proper moments.
Miss Allison, glancing from his thin, pale face, with its austere mouth and its calm, aloof eyes, to Mrs Mansell's countenance, wondered whether a realisation of her host's complete indifference to her conversation would shake Agatha Mansell's magnificent assurance. Probably it would not. Mrs Mansell had been to college in the days when such a distinction earned for a woman the title of Blue-Stocking and the right to think herself superior to her less fortunate sisters. She had preserved through thirty years this pleasant feeling of superiority and an alarmingly cultured voice which could make itself heard without the least vulgar effort above any number of less commanding accents.
'We were disappointed at seeing no gunnets,' announced Mrs Mansell. 'Of course, when we were on Ionah last year we saw hundreds of gunnets.'
'Ah, is that so indeed?' said Silas Kane.
'I saw a film about a lot of gannets once,' suddenly remarked young Mr Harte. He added disparagingly: 'It wasn't too bad.'
Neither Silas nor Mrs Mansell paid any heed to this contribution to the conversation, and young Mr Harte, who was rising fifteen, returned unabashed to the rending of a drum-stick.
Read more of chapter one.