Funkyfacecat’s #CBR4 Review #31: Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer
Heyer’s work is divided into dashing Regency-set romances and mostly light-hearted detective novels set 1920-1955ish. I very much enjoy the latter in the same way as I enjoy Agatha Christie, but they differ from Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Miss Marple series in that the actual police rather than private detectives play a central role, and I’d say they’re slightly inferior in quality as well – read individually every now and then Heyer’s detective fiction is fun but read many at the same time they start to blur into one as there is usually a central romance and main characters are rarely given features other than “pleasant,” “cynical and snide with a heart of gold,” “cynical and snide with the cold dead eyes of a killer,” “flamboyant foreigner,” “obviously gay and unmanly interior designer” and so on. The villains are generally well-drawn and various, though, and overall there’s a sense of ease rather than serious moral questions or threat.
Footsteps in the Dark is typical in that it involves young upper-class people who become embroiled in strange happenings in a country house that two of them have inherited. There are mysterious groaning noises, secret passages, and it’s all quite Gothic, a fact variously relished and feared by the group – until it’s realised that it must be human agency causing the eerie events, and there are, of course, several suspicious characters in the neighbourhood.
The novel generates a bit of suspense, there is an unlikely love story, and there is plenty of good-humoured banter. The solution to the mystery is a bit different than the usual missing will or long-standing grudge, and it’s a fun, if slight read.