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Why Shoot a Butler?
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Why Shoot a Butler?

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,032 Ratings  ·  246 Reviews
What the Butler Saw ... A lonely old man is murdered in a quiet country lane, apparently shot as he was driving home. The only witness to the crime is a pretty young woman with a loaded automatic in her pocket - soon to become the main suspect.

But why, indeed, shoot a butler? Unless he had seen too much.
298 pages
Published May 1st 1967 by Grafton Books (first published 1933)
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 Carol ♔ Type, Oh Queen! ♔
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
I am having such mixed feelings and luck with each new mystery that I pick up by this author. Overall, I enjoy these, but there are also bits that keep them from being perfectly satisfying.

This one returns to one of my favorite mystery settings- the country house/village- and had the usual range of quirky, colorful, and secretive characters. However, the characters are introduced and go about their business without being drawn with any depth. The plot is introduced and I loved the creative turn
Mar 10, 2016 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
*4.5 stars

This is only my second book by Heyer and my first mystery of hers. I honestly can't wait to read more by her and, hopefully, this year I will. I enjoyed this. For the most part, it wasn't so much the mystery that I liked but, rather, the characters. I loved Frank Amberley. He was somewhat of an ass but he appealed to me. As did his family: his aunt, uncle, and cousin--their interactions with each other were very amusing. I found numerous moments to be funny. Especially between Amberley
Feb 04, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, mysteries, british
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
Sep 24, 2010 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, 2010-reads
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
Dec 10, 2011 Kirsti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 26, 2010 Mmyoung rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Heyer has done it again! Why Shoot A Butler? is full of wit, murder, and memorable characters. At times I was giggling hysterically and other times on the edge of my seat with suspense. Literally chapters are devoted to driving around and I found it so suspenseful I couldn't put the book down. Maybe I'm just susceptible 'cause its her.
Amberley is your very typical Heyer Hero, which is to say, caustic and perfectly dressed. I loved him. He was like any of her Regency heroes, just replaced in a '
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.)
Susan in NC
Mar 30, 2014 Susan in NC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 18, 2009 Seizure Romero rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
May 01, 2015 Saul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
John Frankham
Mar 06, 2016 John Frankham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-detective
The second of Georgette Heyer's detective novels, this one starts with a barrister coming across a car with a murdered man and a young woman standing by. He reports the death but does not mention the girl, as he then proceeds to investigate .....

Well-written, good plot and cast of characters. Exciting, and with a touch of romance. A good light read.
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.

Jan 07, 2015 Mo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

❂ Jennifer
Heyer is incredibly hit or miss, and this one was a giant miss for me. Bad narration, unlikeable characters, mediocre plot and hugely ludicrous ending.

Wordy review:
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
Aug 20, 2012 Lioness rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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

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 liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Sep 19, 2011 Nose-in-a-book rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Apr 13, 2014 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kept putting me to sleep. Maybe the butler committed suicide out of boredom.
Jun 24, 2016 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am a Georgette Heyer fan but I'd only previously read her Regency Era books where there is lots of sparkling wit, repartee, and antics. This mystery is set in the 1930s English countryside, a promising setting, but it is limp and tedious compared with other Heyer books I've read. There was none of the fun I'd found in her other novels. The main character is so arrogant and condescending that it was difficult to cheer him on. The heroine was equally annoying. And the plot was so obvious and lea ...more
Jun 09, 2016 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When arrogant barrister Frank Amberley discovers sullen Shirley Brown standing in a rural lane at night, holding a gun, next to car with a dead man who's been shot, he can't really explain why he believes she didn't kill him and why he didn't tell the police about her. The dead man was a butler at a local manor house, and there seems to be no motive to kill him. The local police--somewhat reluctantly--recruit Frank to help with the investigation as he's staying with family at another manor house ...more
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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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