Heyer, No Wind of Blame, rev. jimroberts

DiskuteraReviews reviewed

Bara medlemmar i LibraryThing kan skriva.

Heyer, No Wind of Blame, rev. jimroberts

Denna diskussion är för närvarande "vilande"—det sista inlägget är mer än 90 dagar gammalt. Du kan återstarta det genom att svara på inlägget.

1jimroberts
sep 16, 2009, 10:20am

This is one I'm doing for Go Review That Book!, it's my first attempt at reviewing a crime mystery. I haven't added it yet, because I expect you can tell me how to improve it.
The events recounted in No Wind of Blame centre around a country house somewhere in England in the late 1930s. The house belonged to the first husband of an ex-chorus girl, who inherited it along with his considerable fortune and his collection of guns, some suitable for the big game hunting which was a favourite hobby and some suitable for upper-class pursuits in England. The permanent inhabitants of the house include the daughter of the first marriage, the second husband, and his younger female cousin, previously his ward. As the story proceeds, we meet quite a lot of other people, house guests, neighbours etc. and might well think that it would be no bad thing for a few of them to eliminate each other, though others are attractive. However, one clearly begins to stand out as the most likely victim and another as the most likely perpetrator, but even if the reader correctly identifies the murderer, it's no big deal because the main things are the story, the true motive and the technical ingenuity of the crime.

Eventually the murder occurs: the victim is shot and instantly killed while crossing a bridge. The police find the murder weapon, one of the rifles from the big house, in a convenient shrubbery. The ground is hard and dry, so no footprints help identification and indicate an access and escape route, except that the ground is a bit muddy near the stream which the bridge crosses, but there are no footprints there either. A more careful search reveals a few bits of junk which might be somehow relevant. The questions arise, who could have expected the victim to be in the right place to be shot, and who has no alibi for the relevant time.

Since the local police fail to make rapid progress, Inspector Hemingway and a sergeant come from London to assume control. They check more carefully and are able to break some alibis, enabling them to chase a few red herrings, but in the end they find the motive and explain how it was done and so convict the killer. Also, at the end of the book a couple of romantic subplots are resolved, not necessarily as expected but satisfactorily.

I found this a pleasant read, though probably not one to recommend to fans of difficult mysteries.

2readafew
sep 16, 2009, 11:01am

Pretty good at first reading, there's something I don't like about it but I am not sure what yet. If I figure it out I'll let you know.

3calm
sep 16, 2009, 11:44am

My main problem is that it feels unbalanced, too much plot and storyline, too little of what you think about the book.

I don't think that the bit about the romantic subplots fits either. It feels like you suddenly thought that you hadn't covered part of the storyline and tagged it on as an afterthought.

Grammatically there is a problem with some of the sentences divided up by commas. I was taught that if you removed the section within the commas from the sentence it would still make sense. I suggest that you edit the review with that point in mind.

4atimco
sep 16, 2009, 1:46pm

In your first sentence, do you use "centre" intentionally, or should it be "center"? Perhaps there is a distinction (besides British/American usage) I am not aware of.

I think the last sentence of the first paragraph is too long. Consider breaking it into two sentences.

In your second paragraph I think you include too many details about the technical aspects of the crime. I get bogged down a bit there.

I agree with calm's comment about the love stories bit feeling tacked on. Could you mention that there are romantic elements perhaps in the first paragraph where you talk about all the people in the house?

The questions arise, who could have expected the victim to be in the right place to be shot, and who has no alibi for the relevant time.

I think this would be better punctuated/phrased as:

The questions arise: who could have expected the victim to be in the right place to be shot? And who has no alibi for the time of the murder?

Or you could cheat and just ask the questions, removing the part "the questions arise."

I also agree with calm that we would like to hear more about your response to the book, especially since this was your first murder mystery. Did it meet your expectations of the genre? Were you "fooled"? What did you think of Heyer's writing style? Were the characters believable to you?

It's a pretty good review apart from these quibbles.

5atimco
sep 16, 2009, 1:47pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

6jimroberts
sep 16, 2009, 2:01pm

#2: readafew "there's something I don't like about it but I am not sure what"

That's pretty much my feeling :(

#3: calm "too little of what you think about the book."

The problem here is that I don't feel much. It's OK, not great, pleasant enough.

"I don't think that the bit about the romantic subplots fits either. It feels like you suddenly thought that you hadn't covered part of the storyline and tagged it on as an afterthought."

The resolutions on the last two pages feel a bit like Heyer just tagged them on. We could have been left to imagine how these characters would further develop their relationships.

"problem with some of the sentences divided up by commas"

Well, one of Lynne Truss' main points is that commas are used for disambiguation, but I agree that a couple of sentences should be broken up.

I'll make some changes and show you the result tomorrow.

7jseger9000
sep 17, 2009, 12:14am

I agree with #3.

Even if all you have to say is 'The problem here is that I don't feel much. It's OK, not great, pleasant enough', that is a valid opinion. Perhaps you could explain what you did and didn't like. How was the writing? Was the pacing handled well? I dunno. Something like that.

The bit about the love stories might feel tacked on, but I think maybe it would be better to expand a little instead of cutting it. Maybe just mention something about it earlier when you mention "might well think that it would be no bad thing for a few of them to eliminate each other, though others are attractive..." That was my favorite part of the review BTW. Nice line. I know that the characters are somewhat unlikeable without having to go through a laundry list of the characters.

8jimroberts
sep 17, 2009, 11:17am

wisewoman, jseger9000: thanks for your comments too. (There's no hidden subtlety in "centre", it's just the British convention. I also have a u in "neighbour".)

I've made quite a few changes. I've broken up the long sentence at the end of para 1 and reorganised it so that I can get the romances in there already. The next two paras are somewhat reorganised and hopefully easier to read. There still isn't much about my response: that's a general problem with my reviews, I expect people to be more interested in the book than in me. Anyway, I think this is better than the first version.
The events recounted in No Wind of Blame centre around a country house somewhere in England in the late 1930s. The house belonged to the first husband of an ex-chorus girl, who inherited it along with his considerable fortune and his collection of guns, some suitable for his hobby of big game hunting and some suitable for upper-class pursuits in England. The permanent inhabitants of the house include the daughter of the first marriage, the second husband, and his younger female cousin, previously his ward. As the story proceeds, we meet quite a lot of other people, house guests, neighbours etc. and might well think that it would be no bad thing for a few of them to eliminate each other, though others are attractive. One person begins to stand out clearly as the most likely victim and another as the most likely perpetrator. This doesn't hurt the book, it's no big deal if you correctly identify the murderer early on. The mystery lies in his true motive and in the technical ingenuity of the crime. The various characters and their interactions are interesting too. There are romantic subplots, two of which get resolved in the last couple of pages, not necessarily as expected but satisfactorily.

Eventually the murder occurs: the victim is shot and instantly killed while crossing a bridge. The police find the murder weapon, one of the rifles from the big house, in a convenient shrubbery. The ground is hard and dry, except near the stream which the bridge crosses. There are no footprints to help identify the murderer and all we can conclude is that they probably didn't cross the stream while coming or going. The questions arise, who could have expected the victim to be in the right place to be shot, and who has no alibi for the relevant time.

Since the local police fail to make rapid progress, Inspector Hemingway and a sergeant come from London to assume control. They make more careful search of the area where the gun was found and find a few bits of junk which might be somehow relevant. They check alibis more carefully and are able to break some, enabling them to chase a few red herrings. In the end they find the motive and explain how it was done and so convict the killer. The most difficult part, for the police and the reader, is to find an adequate motive, but Heyer has treated us fairly and told us all we need to know to solve it.

This isn't a book I can be wildly enthusiastic about, but pleasant enough. If you want your murder mysteries to have plenty of action or really difficult problems, this isn't the place. If you're happy with a fairly gentle little story but with a mystery thrown in, this is one.

9countrylife
sep 17, 2009, 11:40am

In general agreement with the others here. Aside from the small nit-picks, I enjoyed the review.

My own nit-pick is with the very last sentence, 'not one to recommend to fans of difficult mysteries'. I am not a mystery reader, so I have no idea what you mean. Is this an 'easy mystery', so would fans of difficult mysteries find this one too easy to solve? Or, does this book strive to be a difficult mystery, but doesn't pull it off?

I'm just not familiar with mystery-reader terms, and others reading your review may be in the same boat, so thought it worth a mention.

10countrylife
sep 17, 2009, 11:41am

LOL - you beat me to it!

11readafew
sep 17, 2009, 12:48pm

Much better second time around. just two small nitpicks.

2nd Para
There are no footprints to help identify the murderer and all we can conclude is that they probably didn't cross the stream while coming or going

There are no footprints to help identify the murderer and all we can conclude it was unlikely they crossed the stream coming or going

3rd Para
They check alibis more carefully and are able to break some, enabling

maybe?
They check alibis more carefully and are able to break a couple, enabling

12calm
sep 17, 2009, 12:53pm

Probably another nitpick but isn't this a minor spoiler?

The mystery lies in his true motive

unless all the suspects are male!

13atimco
sep 17, 2009, 1:23pm

I was actually going to say (re: 11) that "they" is incorrect when referring to "the murderer." Either use the generic "he" or "he/she."

14jimroberts
sep 17, 2009, 1:34pm

#12: calm "isn't this a minor spoiler? The mystery lies in his true motive"

Good catch, I'll change that.

#13: wisewoman
Sorry, but I'll restore consistent usage by sticking to "they". "He" would be misleading to some, and "he/she" is ugly.

#11: readafew
I don't see any significant difference between "it was unlikely they crossed" and the shorter and grammatically simpler "they probably didn't cross". There's something to be said for "a couple" though, I may change that.

15atimco
sep 17, 2009, 1:42pm

"They" and "their" is ugly too when you are referring to single entity! :-P But that's just me and my anal grammar.

16jimroberts
sep 17, 2009, 1:44pm

History is on my side.

17atimco
sep 17, 2009, 1:50pm

I'm sorry?

18readafew
sep 17, 2009, 2:06pm

14 > really I was thinking the 'is that' was extra and not needed. The
"it was unlikely they crossed"
vs.
"they probably didn't cross"

I would agree would be personal style.

19jimroberts
Redigerat: sep 18, 2009, 6:58am

#17: wisewoman
Alright then, rather than history I will appeal to divine precedent for use of forms of "they" with singular antecedent: Matthew 18:35 "So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses."
Perhaps you would enjoy Pedants' Corner.

#18: readafew "14 > really I was thinking the 'is that' was extra and not needed."

You're right, it could be left out. But yes, personal style: in this case, I prefer it in.

20jimroberts
sep 19, 2009, 10:20am

The review is now posted here.

Thank you all for your help.

21atimco
sep 19, 2009, 11:48am

LOL. KJV usage isn't divine. But do as you will; it's your review! :)

*is cracking up about Talk Like a Pirate Day*

Gå med om du vill kunna skriva ett inlägg