Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #25: Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer
I have regained my faith in Georgette! After reading and hating her mystery Penhallow, I was worried about trying another one. Footsteps in the Dark was much more in line with Georgette’s romances, with likeable characters and snappy writing. It’s a mystery about three siblings (and one in-law) who inherit a house that’s rumored to be haunted. They hear strange noises, see glimpses of the hooded Monk, the resident ghost, and even find a skeleton in the wall.
Peter and Charles (brother and brother-in-law) set out to find out who the Monk really is, dismissing the idea of a ghost. Sisters Margaret and Celia agree that there’s probably no ghost, but think that if someone’s maliciously trying to scare them out of the house, maybe it would be a good idea to move back to London. Every time something spooky happens, Celia is ready to pack up and leave, but her husband Charles talks her into staying. There are suspicious townsfolk, bumbling local policemen, and colorful neighbors. The story moves along quickly, and the four main characters are delightful. They’re clever enough to come up with several theories about what’s going on in the previously-abandoned house, but human enough to get things wrong and get themselves into trouble. As always with Georgette, the writing is the star of the show. A few of my favorite lines:
After Margaret makes an insensitive comment and then says she didn’t mean to be rude: “I’m glad to know that,” said Charles. “I mean, we might easily have misunderstood you. But what a field of conjecture this opens out! I shall always wonder what you’d have said if you had meant to be rude.”
A neighbor, asking if they’ve seen the Monk: “Do harrow us! I adore having my flesh made to creep.”
Thank goodness for good writing that comes with likeable characters. One or the other doesn’t seem to be enough for me to like a book. But when Georgette gets it right, she gets it really right!