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The Unfinished Clue

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  3,033 Ratings  ·  230 Reviews
The stabbing of irascible General Sir Arthur Billington-Smith fails to stir up grief in anyone - least of all his family, which is no wonder considering the way he had treated them all during the fateful weekend. He had disinherited his son, humiliated his wife, refused to help his financially stricken nephew and made no secret of his loathing for his son's fiancee, a caba ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 4th 2007 by Arrow (first published 1934)
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Christina ~ Brunette Reader

A tyrannical host found stabbed to death in his study, a group of guests each having a reason to hate him and a young and clever detective from Scotland Yard. The stage, an English country house weekend interspersed with cocktails, teas and politely traded barbs. Written back in 1934, The Unfinished Clue is a classic Golden Age mystery abounding in wit, atmosphere and old-fashioned charm, where the intricate web of suspicions is subtly interwoven and the tension is conveyed through engaging and
Oh, this was so good! Witty, fun, and completely engaging!

Entering Georgette Heyer's magical world of Regency romances was one darn good decision I made, but branching out and trying some of her mysteries is definitely one as well. The characters might not be quite so loveable, the dialogue perhaps not as hilarious, and there might not be as many clothing description and everyday details, but on the other hand there is suspense, secrets, and the wonderful 1930's English country-house atmosphere.
Dec 22, 2012 Leslie rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
One of the best benefits of a bad memory is the ability to reread mysteries! I didn't remember this at all when I started rereading it -- I know I have read it as I own it and I love Heyer but nothing about the blurb seemed familiar. About halfway through I suddenly did recall a big part of the solution (though as it turned out, not the guilty person!) but by that time I was caught up in the book & could enjoy it even knowing (as I thought) whodunit. So it was a fun surprise to find out I di ...more
Sep 04, 2010 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, 2010-reads
My first foray into the murder mysteries of Georgette Heyer, and it won't be my last.

Heyer, while better known for her regency and Georgian romances, also wrote a fair number of mysteries along the lines of Agatha Christie.

This novel, written in 1934, has all the classic elements of an English "Golden Age" mystery:

- The bucolic country setting complete with stately home, a rose garden, and a staff of well-trained servants who know their place.

- A crusty old curmudgeon of a victim, who no one (in
Oct 10, 2013 Madeline rated it really liked it
For real, is there anything as fun as an old-fashioned murder mystery in an English country house? They're like catnip to me, to the extent that I've seen Gosford Park at least six times and aren't even close to getting sick of it.

Speaking of which, Georgette Heyer's The Unfinished Clue is almost a carbon copy of that movie. We have a motley assortment of guests gathered together in a country home for the weekended (they include the host's mistress, the man in love with the host's wife, and the
Feb 27, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it
Admitting you’re a murder mystery addict is sort of like admitting you buy bags of Fritos knowing you’re the only one in the house who will eat them. You tell yourself, “Maybe someone will drop in for lunch...Maybe I’ll have some little kids over,” but really you’re a just a pathetic chow hound. I tell myself that mysteries exercise my brain somehow, but we all know they’re just entertainment, especially as I rarely figure out who done it.

However, while I may have no restraint, at least I have
Sep 18, 2012 Nikki rated it liked it
Shelves: romance, mystery, crime
I don't know why nobody pointed me at Georgette Heyer before. In style and substance her work is much like Mary Stewart's or perhaps Agatha Christie's, and Dorothy L. Sayers set some store by her too. It's a country house murder mystery, with a good number of highly suspicious subjects, a cool and collected young woman who keeps her head and assists the police wonderfully, and an eligible bachelor of a detective to be fallen in love with.

The mystery itself is rather typical of the type, with a
A most enjoyable mystery, my first by Heyer and I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a cozy mystery, involving the murder of a cantankerous man, unloved by pretty well everybody associated with him. Inspector Harding is called down from Scotland Yard to investigate and ultimately solves the crime. I liked his character very much and also that of his plodding Sgt. There were also other characters I liked very much, especially Miss Fawcett. No reliance on fancy CSI-type technology, basically interviews an ...more
Jun 23, 2013 Tweety rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
As with all mysteries one must not say too much. But I can say that I started this with the hope that it would be like Why Shoot a Butler?. I had one fear and that was the fear of it being like Behold, Here's Poison. Thank goodness it wasn't! In fact it was even better than Why Shoot A Butler. Now this my just be me but I didn't get the Unfinished Clue. I guess I'm just thick. Anyhow that's neither here nor There
The characters were real with real life quirks and I even felt for the murderer/mu
A competent, but not tremendously compelling mystery, lightened a little by Lola-the-dancer, who is forthright and wholly without morals. I enjoyed the main POV character, Dinah, but did not find her very quick romance particularly interesting.

Good narrator.
Golden Age mystery. Sir Arthur Billington-Smith is not a pleasant man, and his unpleasantness is at full force on the weekend in which his son brings home the Mexican cabaret dancer he claims he is going to marry, to a country house party already filled with disparate people working at enough cross-purposes to hang each other. His murder, while not much of a tragedy, is about the only thing that could have made the weekend more ghastly.

This was one of my least favourite of the Heyer mysteries. O
Nicole D.
Oct 29, 2012 Nicole D. rated it it was amazing
Who would want to kill Sir Arthur Billington Smith? Turns out everyone. He was a real jerk. He treated everyone so horrialbe even his wife and son. Always yelling at them and putting them down. Then flirting and getting way too friendly with a house guest right in front of his wife and her husband. Not a great human being. I loved Dinah the heroine and how she never let anyone push her around. She is the kind of person you would love to have as a friend. She is one of the only people who will go ...more
Lia Marcoux
I like a country-house murder as much, apparently, as the readers of the 1930s, especially this kind, when after the killing the characters murmur "Ghastly...ghastly" and buy an extravagant hat instead of musing about the value of human life.* You and me, 1930s people, we know what we like. However, unlike in a book by Christie (comparison is mandatory), I cracked this case. I actually swiftly and correctly finished the unfinished clue, which is not a sensation I'm used to, and also guessed the ...more
Keri Luna
Mar 26, 2010 Keri Luna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
They say admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery, so... my name is Keri Luna, and I am a Georgette Heyer addict.

Her delightful Regency romances and beautifully researched historical fiction novels have already made it so I can't be trusted to go near, and now-- to my horror-- I find I am devouring at least two of her very smart murder mysteries every week.

OK. Enough about me.

"The Unfinished Clue" feels more straightforward than some of her other murder mysteri
Georgette Heyer has long been on my to-be-read list. People have told me that she is the mistress of the romance novel and that I should try her Regencies. However, what I found, when I wanted something light to distract me, was one of her mysteries.

This mystery was fun and interesting, but I will stick with Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and Margery Allingham. They are the Grand Dames of the golden era of British mystery and I think their stories are better told. Or maybe I ju
Oct 11, 2013 Shalini rated it liked it
A good cozy mystery involving the prototype patriarch with a nasty temper and a much younger wife. He is stabbed to death when the house is full of visitors and everybody there has a reason to murder him. The Scotland Yard detective has a tough job ahead him to find out the killer. It was a comfortable read with the usual death in a library room with family members and visitors wandering hither and thither. A sensible maiden lady who tries to help the police to find out the killer and finally - ...more
Dec 24, 2008 Gemma rated it really liked it
Witty and fluffy, for a cold day and a pot of tea.
Leanne (Booksandbabble)
Jun 27, 2013 Leanne (Booksandbabble) rated it really liked it
My first Heyer novel, but definitely not my last. The dialogue is very witty and the characters are great. It is not a thought provoking, strenuous read, but a thoroughly enjoyable, fun read.
Annabel Frazer
Mar 29, 2017 Annabel Frazer rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic-crime
Georgette Heyer's detective stories are rather like Patricia Wentworth's in my view, in that they are not always terribly intellectually rigorous, but are enjoyable if you like the period detail and spirited characters. (In this they differ from GH's Regency romances, which sometimes have absolutely shocking gender issues going on, but are meticulously researched in terms of historical detail and are rightly loved by many.)

The Unfinished Clue is one of the best of her detective stories, in my vi
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Apr 30, 2017 ᴥ Irena ᴥ rated it really liked it
I've read quite a few Heyer's historical romances, but this is her first murder mystery. What was I thinking in waiting this long?! I just hope the rest of her mysteries are this entertaining.

The Unfinished Clue takes its sweet time to get to the murder part. It happens almost a third into the book. By that time you are ready to get into the story yourself and strangle the damn character, that's how despicable he is. General Arthur Billington-Smith is a horrible man.
There was only one thing I, l
Sep 05, 2010 Mmyoung rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is the third of Heyer’s detective novels and this reader gets the sense that the author is still searching for exactly the mix of plot and characters to achieve the desired effect. Unlike her first two excursions into the murder mystery genre in this book the detecting is done by a professional and the local constabulary are not portrayed as hayseeds. Instead the reason given for calling in Scotland Yard is prosaic and believable--that when a murder takes place in the home of a locally powe ...more
Pretty much everyone who's ever met Sir Arthur can't stand him, and for good reason; he's a choleric blowhard who finds fault with everybody at all times and makes it known. So the house party is pretty much doomed from the start. His weak, much younger wife Fay has to put up with Sir Arthur's heavy-handed flirting with Camilla Halliday, who puts up with the flirting because she's angling for a financial favor. Her husband puts up with it because he's stuck at Sir Arthur's house. Sir Arthur's ar ...more
Oct 07, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Heyer novel. Although of late she is most remembered for her regency romance novels I chose one of her lesser known thrillers. I'm a sucker for a good mystery and an avid fan of authors such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayer, Mary Stewart, and now I may be adding Georgette Heyer to that list.

The Unfinished Clue didn't seem quite as polished as one of Christie's thrillers and wasn't entirely unique in its plot, but it did entertain and leave me guessing right up to the last few p
Mar 20, 2016 Sherri rated it really liked it
Sir Arthur is a misogynistic bully and the initial mystery is that no one had killed him before

This was my first Heyer mystery, written in the 30's and in the mode of Agatha Christie. A British house party full of very British characters:,from the weak willed heir, the gold digger, the uptight vicar's wife and the clever detective.

Heyer holds up favorably to Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. Her mystery is not an easy one, it is a light read and she seems to enjoy moving these characters about. An
Lovely English country-house murder novel that never fails to please. The victim was a bully to his wife - a long-suffering, wilting flower. The man who loves her is chivalrous to the extreme. There's the level headed sister, a couple of heirs who are good for lots of witty dialogue and a Mexican cabaret dancer who provides the silliness. Two neighborhood older women pop in to stir things up now and then, and the Scotland Yard detective is the best example of the breed - intelligent, handsome an ...more
Almost all Heyer's mysteries are the country-house murder type. Re-reading this immediately after reading Envious Casca was bit like treading the same ground, insofar as both feature the death of a grumpy old man who disapproves of his heir's choice in fiancee. However, Heyer's prose is as delightful as ever.

I admit a definite fondness for the heroine and the detective in this story. It was the first of Heyer's mysteries that I read and I was charmed as much by the romance as by the twist in the
May 07, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Georgette Heyer's mysteries are some I haven't read before, but I will from now on.

The book starts with a really terrible weekend house party. It ends with the host of the party murdered. How is explained fairly early, but the why and who have to wait for the end.

I was proud of myself that I figured out the guilty party before the reveal. I shan't give it away, of course.

It's a well-written book, full of characters I could see while reading. I will be reading more of them.
Feb 10, 2011 C.A. rated it really liked it
Heyer has a knack at creating singularly odious people to murder in her novels, and Col. Billington-Smith is no exception. A bully who alienates and abuses his whole family, and community, no one is exactly suprised when he winds up dead. Still, the case proves thorny, for several reasons, not the least of which is that the CID man from Scotland Yard sent to investigate finds himself having less than professional feelings for the sister-in-law of the victime.
Aug 09, 2013 Cara rated it really liked it
After reading The Cuckoo's Calling, I found myself craving another British detective story. Georgette Heyer is one of my favorite authors, but I've never read any of her mysteries. This one is a classic, country house murder mystery, and I was unable to guess who-dun-it. It was a terrific summer read.
Emilia Barnes
Jan 17, 2015 Emilia Barnes rated it it was amazing
This is the one Georgette Heyer mystery where I did not guess who did it. It was also her most Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery, her wittiest and the one containing the most endearing romance, at least to my mind. I really enjoyed it, and it had me gripped more than any other of her mysteries ever had.
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Georgette Heyer was a prolific historical romance and detective fiction novelist. Her writing career began in 1921, when she turned a story for her younger brother into the novel The Black Moth.

In 1925 she married George Ronald Rougier, a mining engineer, and he often provided basic plot outlines for her thrillers. Beginning in 1932, Heyer released one romance novel and one thriller each year.

More about Georgette Heyer...

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“Well, I think I laid down my sunshade first,'said Mrs. Twining reflectively. 'Ah, that doesn't interest you. I told Finch that I wanted to tidy my hair (a euphemism for "powder my nose", of course), and would show myself out on to the terrace.'

'And you did in fact powder your nose, Mrs. Twining, at the mirror over the fireplace?'

'Most thoroughly,' she agreed.

'How long did that take you?'

She looked rather amused. 'When a woman powders her nose, Inspector, she loses count of time. My own estimate would be a moment or two; almost any man, I feel, would probably say, ages.'

'Were you as long, perhaps, as five minutes?'

'I hope not. Let us say three - without prejudice.”
“[Inspector Harding] "...To start with, I know that the General didn't get on with his son, but seemed to prefer his nephew; I know that he disapproved violently of Miss de Silva, and behaved towards her with unparalleled cruelty."
"How much?" interrupted Dinah.
Harding replied with perfect gravity: "No absinthe, no shower in her bathroom..."
"Did she tell you all that?" said Dinah. "Don't you think she's rather good value?"
"Yes, but she wastes my time.”
More quotes…