Why Shoot a Butler?
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Why Shoot a Butler?

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  2,012 ratings  ·  165 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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Hannah
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...more
Kirsti
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.
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...more
Ladiibbug
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.

Susan
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...more
Mmyoung
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...more
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
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...more
Ann
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...more
Nose-in-a-book
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...more
Kimberly
This was the first Georgette Heyer I read back in the day. Loved it.
Claudia
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...more
Michael
I seem to find all of Georgette Heyer's mysteries enjoyable reading, and this was no exception. It's only a very light mystery, but the reading was (overall) a pleasant experience, with the requisite dash of romance that you'd expect from this author.

(view spoiler)...more
Mare
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
Sophie
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
ladydusk
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...more
Marla
This 1933 mystery definitely has you asking "Why Shoot a Butler?". Just reading the title, my interest were peaked! I had to find out the whys & finding out, didn't come easily. Like Frank Amberley, I knew there had to be SOME reason for the murder & was more than eager to scour the English countryside & what have you with Frank to figure it out. The mystery...the twist...the sum up...NOT a let down at all!! On another note, I do have to make mention that reading a 1930's book is qui...more
Jessi
Georgette Heyer is a wonderful author whose mysteries never fail to make me smile.
Frank Amberley is on his way into the country but his young cousin's promised shortcut has only gotten him hopelessly lost. And now he's stumbled upon a murder. The young woman who is also at the site is nervous but he's sure she's not the one who did this foul deed. So he lets her go and then phones the police.
Mr. Amberley is apparently not a favorite of the Inspector in this area, having shown the man up before,...more
Debbie
This is a mystery novel set around 1933 in Britain. It's also a romance since Frank Amberly, our hero, falls in love with a certain young lady. I will mention, though, that the author likes to make matches that are not exactly destined for peaceful, blissful marriages.

I'd actually label this book a suspense novel rather than a straight mystery. After just a few clues at the beginning, I was able to correctly guess why the murders were happening and who was doing them. The hero quickly figures it...more
Arthur Gibson
I like the book. My only problem with it (and at times with her work in general) is that she summarizes conversations too much. "He said that he was going to go over to the Downs. She asked to come with him. When they got there..." That kind of thing. I can totally understand it when she says things like "George went on in tedious condemnation about the pernicious poachers. Hetty let him finish before she asked him for the weekly grocery money." I mean, who wants to read a tedious commentary? Bu...more
Sue
I really didn't know what to expect with a Heyer mystery. I had read Heyer romance and historical fiction. I prefer the romance to the historical fiction. So I'm not an expert on mysteries. I did however really enjoy this. I sure some of it wasn't plausible but it was written a long time ago about an era a long time ago - decades not hundreds of years. I loved that as usual it took until the very end to fit all the pieces together. You really had to pay attention at the beginning to see why it m...more
Alexis Neal
Dawson, the Fountain family butler, is dead. He was sitting in his car, on the side of the road, at night, and someone shot him. But who? What of the exceedingly uncooperative (and rather rude) Miss Brown, who keeps popping up in the strangest places? Could she be the culprit? What about her perpetually drunk brother Mark? Or the creepy Fountain valet with a nasty habit of listening at keyholes? And why? Was it just bandits, or is there a more sinister force at work? The police are stymied. Fort...more
Melissa
This is only the second Heyer mystery I have read and thought I enjoyed it, I'm not sure I liked it as much as Detection Unlimited. With Why Shoot a Butler? Heyer takes a different approach by having law enforcement officials that border on incompetent and an amateur who is much more talented in the sleuthing department. That particular device provides for many humorous exchanges between the officials and Amberley. Of course, I also liked the idea that instead of "the butler did it," the butler...more
Lioness

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

...more
Nisha-Anne
Good grief, I couldn't believe how boring this was. Maybe I've been thoroughly spoilt by reading Christie and Conan Doyle in huge doses quite recently but I really did believe Heyer could do no wrong! (Aside from her anti-semitism, that is.)

But this had only one of the Heyer characteristics I adore, that being her dizzingly deft hand with dialogue. There was none of the gorgeous description, none of that sheer love of language, no spark, no joy. The language here bordered on the pedestrian. To b...more
Bev Hankins
Why Shoot a Butler? (1933) is Georgette Heyer's second mystery novel. It is every bit as fun as her first one, and shows, I think, that Heyer is gaining confidence in the genre. This one rings a little truer than the first. There are still plenty of coincidences, but they are happy ones. One of Heyer's great gifts are her characters and the humorous way she uses character.

As the title would indicate, the initial and most pressing mystery is why would anyone want to shoot a butler? For that is w...more
Becky
While I've read plenty by Georgette Heyer, Why Shoot a Butler (1933) was my first mystery novel by Heyer. I definitely enjoyed it! Mr. Amberley, our detective hero, is on the way to visit his aunt, uncle, and cousin. He's lost his way because he followed his cousin Felicity's directions. While he's trying to find his way, he sees a woman on the side of the road. Upon further investigation, he realizes that this woman is standing by a car...a car with a dead body in it. Amberley is convinced of t...more
Monica
Jacket Notes: “It’s 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.”

And so begins the second Georgette Heyer mystery that I’ve read. Most definitely you have to keep in mind the time when these Heyer books were writte...more
April
I really enjoyed this book - no surprise, since I'm a fan of Heyer's. The plot was fairly complicated, as always with her books, but definitely readable. It wasn't terribly exciting (and by exciting, I mean edge-of-your-seat exciting) - but it was interesting in its own way. (Books of Heyer's era were not as exciting as ones today tend to be.)

Amberley's character was a wholly fun one - he has such a dry sense of humor that I laughed out loud a few times while reading. However, you don't get a ve...more
Carrie
3.5* rounded up for goodreads.

An enjoyable whodunit with clever characters and snappy dialog. I loved the sense of time and place. Since Heyer wrote these as contemporaries, the reader gets an authentic look at English society in the 1930's. Heyer's mysteries remind me a little of Agatha Chritie's books, although with a little less detail or complexity. Still, they are that type of mystery popular in the early 20th century, where the clever sleuth pieces together obscure clues and figures it all...more
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Georgette Heyer was an amazingly prolific writer who created the Regency England genre of romance novels.

Georgette Heyer was an intensely private person. A best-seller all her life without the aid of publicity, she made no appearances, never gave an interview, and only answered fan letters herself if they made an interesting historical point. Heyer wrote very well-researched historical fiction, fu...more
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