When Gregory Matthews was found dead in his bed one morning, almost nobody in the family was surprised. Nor, come to think of it, was anyone suddenly grief-stricken, for Gregory had been the kind of grasping, tyrannical head-of-family who seem destined to wind up dead during the course of a Golden Age mystery. The family seemed quite willing to write Gregory's death off to his general bad health. Then, one member of the family, his almost-as-tyrannical sister Gertrude, stepped in and began insisting on a post-mortem and an investigation. The rest of the family was horrified (as was the attending doctor). But, as it quickly turned out, Gregory's death was anything but natural - he was poisoned. The real trick, as police quickly discovered, was in figuring out how the poisoning could have been done. And, of course, by whom. Details will be found in Georgette Heyer's 1936 mystery, Behold, Here's Poison. It's the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the entire review by clicking here.
Gregory Matthews who delighted in tyrannizing everyone, had provided his victims with many different motives for murder. A few examples: Gregory had left a will making one of his nephews, described by others as “a snake,” the sole heir to a considerable fortune. Another of his nephews had been threatened with being sent off to Brazil to take a job he didn’t want. Gregory had intended to block his niece’s marriage to his doctor, who lived next door. To his two sisters, he had left the family home, but barely enough money to keep that house open and in repair. And it would soon turn out that there were still more potential motives, as Gregory Matthews was the kind of person who truly enjoyed knowing the secrets of his family and their neighbors – and he wasn’t reluctant to exploit that knowledge. All things considered, it’s something of a surprise that nobody had killed him any sooner. As Superintendent Hannasyde and Sergeant Hemingway, Heyer's series detectives, quickly learned, nobody in the family – or in the neighborhood – was at all eager to help the police, and that certainly didn’t help matters.
As usual with Georgette Heyer's mysteries, there's a good deal of wit, style and humor in the writing, and the plots and language remind the reader of classic comedies of manners. The characters do seem to detest each other heartily, but in ways that are as comic as they are repellent. Behold, Here's Poison is a lot of fun, with some surprising plot twists. I think you'd enjoy it.