Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Why Shoot a Butler?” as Want to Read:
Why Shoot a Butler?
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Why Shoot a Butler?

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,740 ratings  ·  217 reviews
It is a complete mystery why anyone would choose to murder the trusted old butler of Norton Manor. Barrister turned amateur detective, Frank Amberley, has reason to suspect that the shooting involves the nervy young lady discovered at the scene of the crime, a snooping gentleman in the halls of Greythorne and then a second dead body. A dramatic tale of upstairs, downstairs ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Arrow (first published 1933)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Why Shoot a Butler?, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Why Shoot a Butler?

The Grand Sophy by Georgette HeyerFrederica by Georgette HeyerDevil's Cub by Georgette HeyerThese Old Shades by Georgette HeyerCotillion by Georgette Heyer
Favorite Georgette Heyer Book!
36th out of 52 books — 527 voters
Spritzerville,…Ohio? by Jason R. KoivuDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickWhose Body? by Dorothy L. SayersWhy Didn't They Ask Evans? by Agatha ChristieAre You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
Titles with a Question Mark?
16th out of 333 books — 57 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I think that of all Heyer's mysteries, this one is my favorite. I guess it could be classified as a "cozy" since the main 'detective' isn't a professional (he's a barrister, but this case isn't related to his work in any way) but it also has aspects of romantic suspense. Sort of a cross between Mary Stewart and Dorothy Sayers.

One aspect of not being a police procedural that leapt out at me during this latest reread is it allowed Heyer to give free rein to her genius for repartee. Amberley is a
Barrister Frank Amberley tries a shortcut to his uncle's county house and becomes totally lost. He stops to ask a young lady for directions and noticing her distress, he looks carefully and finds a sports car with a corpse behind the wheel. Though the girl has a gun, she maintains her innocence. Frank heads off to the police station to report the murder but leaves the young woman out of it. The police are baffled by the crime and the Sargent, looking for a promotion, enlists Frank's help. Frank ...more
☆ Carol ☆
The good news is that this turned out to be a Heyer that I hadn't read before.

The bad news was that it was absolutely terrible.

Three things save this book from a one star rating.

The first is that my personal one stars for GH's books (not on GR, mainly because I have no intention of reading them ever again) are so much worse. WSaB at least has glimpses of Heyer's wonderful wit. Helen (mercifully suppressed contemporary) & My Lord John (leaden historical) don't.

The second is that two of the s
Why shoot a butler, indeed?
Good butlers are hard to come by, and managing a large English manor house circa 1933 calls for a discrete, efficient, capable family servant. Unfortunately, this particular butler is currently behind the wheel of his master's vehicle with a hole through his chest. No more butlering for him, poor chap.

Who killed Dawson, and why, is just the tip of the puzzle for amature sleuth Frank Amberley. His dinner engagement with his aunt and uncle is interrupted by a wrong turn
I don't like being sick, but I do like having an entire day to sit in an easy chair with a heating pad and one of those ridiculous blankets-with-sleeves and a 1930s English murder mystery. As far as I can remember, this is the first Georgette Heyer I've read, but I want to read more of her books. Lots of twists and turns, plus expressions that are new to me, such as "Not strictly the clean potato, eh?" I'm still trying to figure that one out.
Why shoot a butler?

Why indeed.

Frank Amberley is a barrister who stumbles onto a dead man on his way to a dinner party. The dead man is in a car, shot. Beside the car is a young lady with a gun. After checking the gun, seeing it hadn't been fired and convincing himself she had nothing to do with it, Amberley lets the girl go. He stops off at the police station to tell them and then, naturally, goes to the dinner party. One musn't be so rude as to allow something like murder interfere with dinner
Full of plot holes, rewards dangerous misogyny and general assholery, characters smile with their eyebrows. I'd give this one a miss, if I were you. Go and read a good Christie.

(Incidentally, I have been and will be off the radar for a bit as house moving is in progress and new wifi has yet to be connected. Also I'm drowning in cardboard boxes. See you all in a few more days.)
Fun read if you're a fan of Golden Age British mysteries - although I enjoy Heyer's Regency romances even more! In this case barrister Frank Amberley is lost taking a bad shortcut to his family's country house when he comes across a sports car pulled to the side of a country road; it's pitch dark, there's a dead man behind the wheel with a gunshot wound, and a mysterious young woman standing beside the car...

Off to a great start, right? I thought so too, but for some reason it took me a while t
For the fan of Heyer who reads this book because they are entranced with her Regency Romances it will probably be a let down. It is not a badly written book and while the plot is cliched it is not patently ridiculous as is the case with some books written contemporaneously, although it does lack the lightness and wit that readers of the Regency Romances came to expect from the author.

For the fan of Heyer’s detective stories this, her second murder mystery, shows the author still experimenting w
Sandy H
I only finished this book because it was on my challenge list for a group and by the time I'd decided I wasn't particularly interested in finishing it I felt like I had already invested so much time in it I should just forge ahead. I had read a fair amount of Georgette Heyer in my youth and recalled liking her, so I started the book with some hope. Apparently my tastes have changed in the intervening years, however, because I just couldn't like her main character in this book at all. I found not ...more
Seizure Romero
A fun read shot through with dry humor & sarcasm. While Frank Amberley (the rudest man in London) makes disparaging remarks and not-so-subtle jibes at the expense of almost everyone (mostly the local constabulary), many of my favorite moments come from his aunt, Lady Matthews. She is nowhere near as lost as she sounds, yet speaks almost exclusively in short scattered sentences and non sequiturs.

Sir Humphrey, Frank's uncle, is voicing his displeasure at the way Frank's investigation is interf
A good mystery, copyright 1936.

This is my third Heyer read, and the writing is as witty as the others. Barrister Frank Amberley discovers a young woman at night beside a car on a deserted road. The driver is dead.

On his way to a dinner party, Amberley decides to stick around and investigate. His verbal gymnastics are a delight to read, whether he's creatively insulting an unsuspecting victim, digging for clues, or just being himself.

3 1/2 stars

I think the plotline got unnecessarily complicated. I had to read the final chapter twice to take it all in. It seemed like a lot of stuff thrown at me all at once. Of course, the fact that it was 2 am MAY have had something to do with it! :)

While I always enjoy Georgette Heyer's writing, I must confess that I like her Regency novels more than her detective / mystery books.

Nicole D.
Frank Amberley is on his way to visit his Aunt,Uncle,and Cousin when he stumbles upon a murder and a girl at the scene of the crime.She swears she didn't shoot the man. Turns out the murdered man is a butler on one of the nearby estates. But who would want to shoot a butler?

Frank Amberley is a lawyer and also is very arrogant but I still find his character like able. I loved his quick wit and think he is wasted as a lawyer and should become a detective. He would be heck of a lot more capable the

The Plot
On his way to dinner at the house of his aunt and uncle Frank Amberly, an amateur detective, takes a wrong turn. On that road he finds a murdered man in a car, and there is a young lady, Shirley, standing next to the car. He reports it to the police, but leaves out Shirley because he feels that she didn't shoot the man (who turns out to be a butler). However the police would immediately arrest and hang her for the murder if they knew about her. Amberly finds that this an interesting case

Georgette Heyer wrote ‘Why Shoot a Butler?’ in 1933 when mystery novel were fairly fashionable. It is an ok English murder mystery story but, unlike Christie’s novel, for example, this book did not withstand the test of time particularly well.

This type of format, over the years, has become formulaic, predictable and a tad repetitive and only genuinely well written novels of this genre are worth a read. Personally, I would not bother with this one!

The plot gets unnecessarily complicated at the en
Abigail Hartman
Well, I guessed who did it, but only late in the game - and, too, I wasn't sure why the individual had Done Them In.

Why Shoot a Butler? was a fairly relaxed introduction to Heyer's mysteries: not very creepy, not very involved, but fun because Heyer's characters are fun. I was particularly fond of the smooth-sailing Lady Matthews. Mr. Amberley, I confess, was not my favorite. On the surface his curt abruptness seems reminiscent of Charles Rivenhall, but I found him too rude, especially to his au
Mar 11, 2011 Ann rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
Our hero, Frank Amberly is intelligent and mysterious. He never lets anyone in on his thought process. He just tells people what he needs them to do, or manipulates them into it. Unfortunately for the reader, Amberly doesn't let them in on it either.

It's a fairly boilerplate whodunnit, hurt by the fact that there's really no way the reader has a chance to solve it for themselves. All the relevant facts are kept from you until the very end.

However, this is a Heyer book, so the characters are fa
Sakura Yue Michaelis
The best GH mystery I've read so far. It was a bit Gothic is some parts, and there is plenty of humor (although there are 2 murders + 1 attempt of murder). I would love to see a BBC adaptation of this.

Amberley was a bit arrogant and the little romance was a bit MEH, though.
Why Shoot a Butler is a very entertaining book. It kept me company for a week on the train as I rode to work. The hero of the novel, is sarcastic and condescending. He kind of reminds me of Dr. House, so rude you can't help but like him. He has a smart remark for everyone.

The mystery itself is OK. It keeps you reading, leaving clues along the way that are tied together and summed up at the end. However, allot goes on unseen. The amateur sleuth keeps all his cards hidden and reveals them at the
This was the first Georgette Heyer I read back in the day. Loved it.
A really pleasant surprise, and a new source of guilty pleasure, I can see. Chalk up a win for the Goodreads Recommendations.

I'd always dismissed Heyer as a romance writer, not knowing she also wrote mysteries. Seeing this, I gave it a shot, and it was fun! Okay, obviously it's not great literature, but it's not trying to be. It's a decent English-countryhouse mystery, with a good bit of atmosphere and a properly eventful plot. And how could I not appreciate the cheek of starting off by shooting

I read Why Shoot a Butler? while the kids were off at school today. I'm more familiar with Georgette Heyer's romances, but I like her enough that I was willing to try this (besides, my sister gave it to me with a glowing recommendation.)

It turned out to be a light, fun read. Frank Amberley's obnoxious brilliance is entertaining, so much so that I was only slightly annoyed at all the places where he investigated this or that--and then didn't tell what he discovered. Probably best that way, becau

1930s murder mystery. The butler is the one who gets shot, as indicated by the title. It's up to Frank Amberly to discover the murderer & the even deeper mystery.

Frank is actually compared to Sherlock Holmes in this story & he bears a remarkable resemblance. He even has a sort of Watson in Corkran, an old school friend. He discovers Shirley Brown at the scene of the crime on a deserted lane. He's a lawyer & a pretty smart one too. He decides to help her, even though it doesn't look
This was the first Georgette Heyer mystery I'd read and it was a joy. English manor mysteries are always appealing and her wry, witty writing was an unexpected treat. The book starts with Frank Amberley finding a car with a corpse in it, and a young lady standing near it, on his way to his aunt and uncle's house one night. A fancy dress ball, more murders, and a wild ride combine to make a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys tradtional English mys ...more
This is an entertaining book wherein the hero--withholding information madly--solves a crime while the reader struggles to understand what is at stake. Or at least this reader did. Once we got to the denouement, the clues sprinkled throughout became clear enough, but I had not picked up on them sufficiently to understand why the crime had been committed, even though, by process of elimination more than anything, I had figured out who the perpetrator had to be. I love the humor of Georgette Heyer ...more
Libby Ames
I love Georgette Heyer, but I've never tried one of her mysteries. I'm not a huge mystery fan, but I can tell that she does a good job with her plot twists and overall mystery. My one complaint is that her usual wonderful character development suffered for the plot. She created a great mystery, but I missed the character connection I usually enjoy with Heyer.
This is the first Georgette Heyer I have read and I enjoyed it but it didn't blow me away. It could have had some thing to do with the fact I was reading a 1963 edition of a 1933 book, so it clearly had not been PC'd the way some other newer editions may have been.
The male protagonist - clearly the basis of a series - is kind of a jerk - totally insulting to the police, other characters and in spite of never explaining anything (and withholding evidence) totally expects everyone around him to ha
Read on Kindle.

This was a Kindle deal last week, and I like Heyer and have only previously read and enjoyed one of her mysteries (Envious Casca), so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did.

A fun traipse through the British countryside (despite the murders) with twists and turns that the explanation make plausible. Mr. Amberley is wonderful main character detective (if abrasive at times) ... rich, knowing, and piecing together scraps of information to a logical deduction. It was a gripping re
Another mystery with both humor and horror, you couldn't help but feel pity for most of the characters, caught in a situation not of their making and having to deal with the consequences. Frank was a joy. Rude and abrupt with everyone, except perhaps his aunt, who he quite rightly holds in esteem, although the reader can't figure out why until nearly the end of the book, he bludgeons his way through the suspects and the police impartially until he gets the job done. Wonderful writing, although I ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Death of a Ghost (Albert Campion Mystery #6)
  • A Shilling for Candles (Inspector Alan Grant, #2)
  • Tied Up In Tinsel (Roderick Alleyn, #27)
  • Love Lies Bleeding (Gervase Fen, #5)
  • The Private World of Georgette Heyer
  • Thus Was Adonis Murdered (Hilary Tamar, #1)
  • Striding Folly (Lord Peter Wimsey, #15)
  • She Came Back (Miss Silver, #9)
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...

Share This Book