Tuesday, January 1, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer

I received this book for free from Netgalley. This did not influence my review.

I’ve read many of Georgette Heyer’s Regency Romances, but aside from Penhallow, I haven’t really delved into her mysteries. Some are being re-released by Sourcebooks and are available on Netgalley, so I decided to give one a try.

Footsteps in the Dark is a gothic tale with a bit of a Scooby-Doo set up. Charles Malcolm, his wife Celia, and her siblings, Peter and Margaret, have moved to a house – an old priory – in the country. The siblings have inherited this quaint and somewhat dilapidated relic from an elderly relative. It needs work, but the siblings have fallen in love with its possibilities.

The family is warm and congenial and it’s pleasant to spend time with them.

They haven’t been in the house long before they hear tales from the neighbors. The house is haunted. A previous renter left in a terrified hurry, but the new owners are more sensible. When they hear footsteps and groaning noises, and see a dark-cowled apparition of a monk, they are convinced that a human is behind it all. Someone is trying to frighten them away. But why?

They meet an odd assortment of neighbors and visitors to the town. There is a retired colonel, an eccentric moth-collector who wanders about the property at will, a local doctor who drinks, a foreign artist/drug addict, a vacuum cleaner salesman, and a rough rather mysterious man whose employment is unclear but who seems to show up in unexpected places. This man, Michael Strange, catches the eye of Margaret, an otherwise sensible young woman who decides to trust him against her better judgment.

The novel starts with the owners’ curiosity, but this builds to unease and outright fright as the mysterious sounds and creepy premonitions multiply. The sense of danger escalates, especially after a murder is committed in the small town. Charles and company are more determined than ever to solve the mystery, even--responsibly – bringing in the police.

The novel is evenly paced. The characters are clever and behave in a rational fashion. The mystery is not wildly original (though it may have been in the 1930s when first published) but it is well-plotted and the loose ends are tied up nicely.

Although the mystery is set in a more recent past than the Regency Romances, it has a sweet, old-fashioned flavor and is recommended for cozy mystery fans.

1 comment:

  1. This is an author who has been on my list for a long time, but I still haven’t read! Thanks for the reminder.