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Why Shoot a Butler?

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  3,324 Ratings  ·  273 Reviews
Every family has secrets, but the Fountains' are turning deadly...

On a dark night, along a lonely country road, barrister Frank Amberley stops to help a young lady in distress and discovers a sports car with a corpse behind the wheel. The girl protests her innocence, and Amberley believes her;at least until he gets drawn into the mystery and the clues incriminating Shirley
Kindle Edition, 330 pages
Published April 2009 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published 1933)
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(showing 1-30)
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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 09, 2016 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

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 and Shirl
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
Jan 27, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it
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
Brenda H
Aug 31, 2016 Brenda H rated it really liked it
Frank Amberley is on his way to dinner at his Uncle and Aunt's estate, when he comes across a young woman, Shirley Brown, standing in the road next to a car with a dead man in the driver's seat.

Mr. Amberley is asked by the local police force to lend a hand as he was instrumental in closing a prior case. Between directing the bungling constabulary and keeping the inept inspector busy with wild goose chases, Mr. Amberley solves not only this crime, but several others that occur as a result.

While I
Frank Amberley is on his way to visit relatives when he comes across a still-warm dead body in a car, and a beautiful young woman holding a pistol standing over the body. She refuses to explain herself, and after briefly examining the scene, Frank drives away. He does inform the police of the dead body, but not that he saw Shirley Brown. The dim low class police officers beg Frank to help them solve the case, and he does--while not telling them a single clue that he finds, or informing him of an ...more
Sep 10, 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
Apr 30, 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
Jan 18, 2009 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.
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 '
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.)
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
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 17, 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
Susan in NC
May 05, 2010 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
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
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.

Mar 05, 2013 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.

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.
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

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
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
Sep 11, 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
Jan 09, 2011 Mare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 24, 2015 Rosemary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still exciting despite knowing the plot backwards. Instead of the wonderful Hemingway, in this Heyer mystery we have Mr Amberley who is a Barrister working with police. By comparison with Hemingway Mr Amberley's character is quite dry and serious, but light relief is provided by the minor characters - the cryptic Lady Matthews is a standout.

PS: like many of the newer Heyer editions, the 2003 Redwood edition I read is in need of proofreading.

Libby Ames
Feb 15, 2015 Libby Ames rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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.
Nov 06, 2016 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, ill, murder
Let me clear up the obvious answer first: The butler didn't shoot himself.

This was the first Heyer mystery I've read and it was quite different from her romances, but still satisfying and fun. Not the most striking mystery, but very period of when it was written and enjoyable.
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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.

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