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Envious Casca (Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #6)
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Group Reads > Envious Casca December 2018 Group Read Spoilers Thread.

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Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4245 comments Mod
For open spoilers and final conclusions.


message 2: by Abigail (last edited Dec 01, 2018 09:45AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1317 comments Just in case anyone comes to this page unwarily, as I often do, I'll put this in spoiler tags. My early guess is that (view spoiler)


message 3: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 479 comments Carol ꧁꧂ wrote: "For open spoilers and final conclusions."

Carol, I came to the same conclusion when I first read it. ; )


message 4: by Critterbee❇ (last edited Dec 01, 2018 09:28AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2597 comments Mod
The first time I read this, I was living in Japan, and had just watched a Takarazuka (all-female theater troupe) production of Elisabeth the same week (Hello, coincidence!), so I had ideas pretty early on about how the thing was done.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4245 comments Mod
Critterbee❇ wrote: "The first time I read this, I was living in Japan, and had just watched a Takarazuka (all-female theater troupe) production of Elisabeth the same week (Hello, coincidence!), so I had ideas pretty e..."

Heh!

I do think this is a rare example of a book that did need to be renamed (although I wish the publishing house had thought of something more imaginative than A Christmas Party)


message 6: by MaryC (new)

MaryC Clawsey | 479 comments Carol wrote: "I do think this is a rare example of a book that did need to be renamed (although I wish the publishing house had thought of something more imaginative than A Christmas Party) ."

Well, Agatha Christies (or one of her editors) had already used Murder for Christmas.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1317 comments Hah! For once, I nailed it! Even when it came to the book about the empress, though I didn't realize how it would factor in.

It was clear (to any regular reader of GH, at least) that Stephen and Mathilda were warming up to each other as well, though it seemed to me like an unnecessary addition to the story.


message 8: by Jackie (last edited Dec 02, 2018 05:18AM) (new)

Jackie | 1215 comments I think maybe Stephen and Mathilda were necessary, "Tilda" being the only character we can relate to. Not everyone else was completely unlikeable - I liked Maud - but still. Mathilda was The Character and if she likes Stephen, I want her to be happy. Also, I enjoy seeing the "good sort" of woman end up Happily Ever After rather than the empty prettiness of Valerie.
Stephen had to be written as completely unlikeable or the plot wouldn't have worked at all.
Paula, Valerie (and her Mother) were all comically unlikeable which I enjoyed. lots of comedy in this book!


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2597 comments Mod
Jackie wrote: "I think maybe Stephen and Mathilda were necessary, "Tilda" being the only character we can relate to. Not everyone else was completely unlikeable - I liked Maud - but still. Mathilda was The Charac..."

Exactly! We needed an 'ally' inside the house, to feel more immersed in the story, especially with so many characters.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1317 comments I didn't mean they didn't need to be in the story, only that they didn't need to get engaged.


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2597 comments Mod
Was there pressure on Heyer to include romance in her mysteries? Avoiding spoiling other books by using names, but there does seem to be a strong romantic element in most of her mysteries.


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2597 comments Mod
As opposed to, was it just something she preferred to include?


message 13: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1215 comments Abigail wrote: "I didn't mean they didn't need to be in the story, only that they didn't need to get engaged."
it certainly wasn't a very satisfying romance, pretty much nothing happened right up until he realized he loved her and they did get engaged.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 4245 comments Mod
Critterbee❇ wrote: "As opposed to, was it just something she preferred to include?"

GH had a different original publisher though for her mysteries. & she was very strong minded.

I think the mysteries were an activity she did with her husband. Maybe the romance was something she did feel more comfortable with & that is why she included it?


Kay Webb (kaywebb) | 35 comments Hard to remember so long ago, but I do know that I had read a biography of Elisabeth of Austria. When I read Envious Casca, I had a pretty good idea of how the murder was done and by whom. I was thoroughly entertained by Maud's frequent plaints about finding her book about Elisabeth.


Rosina (rosinarowantree) Some of us are also members of Reading the Detectives, I know, and I wonder if anyone else was struck by the similarities between Envious Casca and Death and the Dancing Footman. The snow, the houseparty with guests selected for the possibility of arguments, the playwright (although Mandrake in D&tDF is rather less irritating that Willoughby), the collection of exotic weapons, the attempt to 'frame' an innocent party - and the plot that could so easily have gone wrong. Heyer does at least try to cover the question of 'what if the method hadn't quite worked as planned': Ngaio Marsh's killer seems not to have had a fall-back position if the device had (as seems all to likely) failed to work, leaving the killer both alibi-less and incriminated by the evidence of the device!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1317 comments Haven't read that one, Rosina. It seems as if every house party mystery of that era has to have a collection of exotic weapons on the wall, though! The first Albert Campion one does as well.


message 18: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments I seem to be in the minority here, but I cordially disliked Uncle Joe from the get-go! Probably because I know people like him IRL, who seem nice on the surface but delight in saying exactly the wrong thing in *every* situation and making every situation fraught.
And I have a real dislike of people who call others by nicknames when they have't asked to be so called :) (Tilda?! :))


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1317 comments I'm totally with you, Maith! Loathed him and his phoniness. I think it was that and not supernatural powers of penetration that made me tag him as the killer right from the start. :-)


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments I didn't peg him as the murderer, but I sincerely disliked him - which is why I cut Stephen so much slack! I've met people like him, too, all sincerity on the surface but always looking for the main chance.


And my opinion of Paula didn't change, either. An annoying, self-centered little pig! I might have burned Willoughby's manuscript in self-defense, but I doubt that would have shut her up.

I'd never heard of the Empress Elizabeth until I read this a few years ago. What an interesting person (and such a beauty). I was surprised to see how much Wiki had on her. Much more of a V.I.P. than I knew.


Still a favorite of mine, even though as a "Christmas" read, it's got no warm and fuzzies! Come to think of it, maybe that's why Heyer let Stephen and Tilda get engaged at the end - a little Christmas present for us!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3442 comments Abigail wrote: "I didn't mean they didn't need to be in the story, only that they didn't need to get engaged."

Agreed, it did feel tacked on!


Rosina (rosinarowantree) I hope that they do marry soon, and have a son to inherit the hall. Stephen will presumably be called up, if we are now around 1939. Royston, perhaps, will be able to get out on the grounds of ill-health, with his nosebleeds.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3442 comments Karlyne wrote: "I didn't peg him as the murderer, but I sincerely disliked him - which is why I cut Stephen so much slack! I've met people like him, too, all sincerity on the surface but always looking for the mai..."

Agree with you on all points, and Paula really is rotten, isn’t she? And I got a chuckle out of Hemingway catching on right away how annoying Joseph was, with his sweet dear uncle act! Yes, I agree also - the romance tacked on at the end is our little Christmas present!


message 24: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1215 comments Rosina wrote: "I hope that they do marry soon, and have a son to inherit the hall. Stephen will presumably be called up, if we are now around 1939. Royston, perhaps, will be able to get out on the grounds of ill-..."
He's not Out of the Top Drawer but I like to think he will join up anyway.

and I'm glad they got engaged: they'd just been through a pretty stressful time, I think he was then able to be vulnerable and she discovered he was enough like her bull terriers to be lovable.
it is a Christmas present, I love that idea.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3442 comments Jackie wrote: "Rosina wrote: "I hope that they do marry soon, and have a son to inherit the hall. Stephen will presumably be called up, if we are now around 1939. Royston, perhaps, will be able to get out on the ..."

I like the comparison to her bull terriers - good point! They say we sometimes resemble our pets, so I guess you could fall for a person with a similar personality to your pets...


message 26: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1215 comments I forget where it was, but Mathilda herself says he is like them, always wanting to fight.
I believe Maud is easily my favorite character and it's so fun to see the juxtaposition of her and Mrs. Dean. Maud is so vague but doesn't hesitate to say exactly what is on her mind. Mrs. Dean is sharp, like a pointy finger nail, but doesn't know as much as she thinks she does. and she is so insincere! just like Uncle Joe, they get along great.
I had to move this post to the spoiler thread because it isn't til the end that we are all sure Maud knew exactly what was going on, although there were clues.
and the description of how Mrs. Dean is dressed about killed me, so tacky!


message 27: by Susan in NC (last edited Dec 08, 2018 06:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3442 comments Jackie wrote: "I forget where it was, but Mathilda herself says he is like them, always wanting to fight.
I believe Maud is easily my favorite character and it's so fun to see the juxtaposition of her and Mrs. D..."


Yes! Maud cracked me up - so deadpan, and the way she refused to play along and be hostess...she always goes to church on Christmas, so murder or not, unexpected arrival of Mrs. Dean or not - off she goes! I admire that, I’d be guilted into sticking around and entertaining the horrid Mrs. Dean! (“Childie”? Seriously? And calling Stephen, Stevie? That takes the hide of a rhino!) She’s like a female Joseph!


Barb in Maryland | 657 comments Oh, Valerie's mum is certainly a piece of work! She provided a lot of amusement for me--when I wasn't wanting to smother her, that is!!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3442 comments Barb in Maryland wrote: "Oh, Valerie's mum is certainly a piece of work! She provided a lot of amusement for me--when I wasn't wanting to smother her, that is!!"

True!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Heyer spent so much time on Mrs. Dean's physical description that I wondered if she was seeing a real person in her mind's eye!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Susan in NC wrote: "Jackie wrote: "I forget where it was, but Mathilda herself says he is like them, always wanting to fight.
I believe Maud is easily my favorite character and it's so fun to see the juxtaposition of..."


It would be easy to write Maud off as vague, but she's not. She's deliberately detached; she's carved out a life for herself that she can live with, and she's not budging from it. A lot of that has, I think, to do with trust; she knows full well that Joe is not trustworthy.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 1317 comments Maud has a kind of dignity that I admire, even when she is at her most hilarious.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3442 comments Abigail wrote: "Maud has a kind of dignity that I admire, even when she is at her most hilarious."

Yes she does.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3442 comments Karlyne wrote: "Susan in NC wrote: "Jackie wrote: "I forget where it was, but Mathilda herself says he is like them, always wanting to fight.
I believe Maud is easily my favorite character and it's so fun to see ..."


I hadn’t thought about it like that, but I think you’re right!


Teresa | 1628 comments I was so glad Joseph was the killer because I felt like I wanted to strangle him myself after about two chapters. I can't stand smarmy people like him. I only began to suspect him for real though towards the end.
Matilda was definitely my favorite. Thought she was wasted on Stephen mind you.
After the first few mentions of the missing book I realised it had something to do with it but could absolutely not guess what.


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments In hindsight, it's obvious that the book is key, because it's also obvious that Stephen's not a liar. So who else would have not only taken it, then tried to destroy it, and been able to seem innocent? I missed it completely, I confess...


message 37: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 1215 comments Karlyne wrote: "Heyer spent so much time on Mrs. Dean's physical description that I wondered if she was seeing a real person in her mind's eye!"

yes, we can see her very clearly - her blonde hairdo, too-short skirt and enormous bust jutting out over the part of her confined by corsets.

and her speech! "girlie" and "childie" - ugh! it occurs to me that Valerie seems so unlikable, at least until she and Stephen break up, but considering what her Mother is like she really could be worse.

I agree Maud has dignity, and deliberately detached is an excellent way to describe her.

it's ironic she is a former performer you'd maybe expect to be tacky.

I hope the younger Herriards stay in touch with Aunt Maud!


message 38: by Jackie (last edited Dec 09, 2018 07:11PM) (new)

Jackie | 1215 comments Karlyne wrote: "In hindsight, it's obvious that the book is key, because it's also obvious that Stephen's not a liar. So who else would have not only taken it, then tried to destroy it, and been able to seem innoc..."

oh, me, too - I totally missed that and never guessed who the killer was. not just the first time I read the book but the first couple of times! (it's a real advantage to having a poor memory)


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3442 comments Karlyne wrote: "In hindsight, it's obvious that the book is key, because it's also obvious that Stephen's not a liar. So who else would have not only taken it, then tried to destroy it, and been able to seem innoc..."

I did, too.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3442 comments Jackie wrote: "Karlyne wrote: "In hindsight, it's obvious that the book is key, because it's also obvious that Stephen's not a liar. So who else would have not only taken it, then tried to destroy it, and been ab..."

So true, I remembered the killer and the method but forgot a lot of details!


message 41: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments Karlyne wrote: "I didn't peg him as the murderer, but I sincerely disliked him - which is why I cut Stephen so much slack! I've met people like him, too, all sincerity on the surface but always looking for the mai..."

I love Heyer's sarcastic heroes - probably because that is our family's brand of humor too. I know it scares or puts-off newcomers to the group though and I do try to not be as sarcastic around them :) So yeah Stephen was right up my street.

Paula - I wonder if Heyer didn't know some driven wannabe actress herself - it does ring very true to type...


message 42: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments Abigail wrote: "I'm totally with you, Maith! Loathed him and his phoniness. I think it was that and not supernatural powers of penetration that made me tag him as the killer right from the start. :-)"

Seriously - I wonder what it says about my nature that over-niceness makes me suspicious :) been proven true too many times to get rid of that particular piece of cynicism though!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Maith wrote: "Abigail wrote: "I'm totally with you, Maith! Loathed him and his phoniness. I think it was that and not supernatural powers of penetration that made me tag him as the killer right from the start. :..."

I used to think that every person deserved to be trusted until proven untrustworthy. But now, I've got the rather jaundiced view of humanity that says, "Show me your deeds, instead of your words, and then I'll decide"...


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 3442 comments Karlyne wrote: "Maith wrote: "Abigail wrote: "I'm totally with you, Maith! Loathed him and his phoniness. I think it was that and not supernatural powers of penetration that made me tag him as the killer right fro..."

I think that’s just age imposing common sense on us!


Karlyne Landrum | 3895 comments Well, the older you get the more opportunity you have to meet the plausible...


message 46: by Maith (new)

Maith | 148 comments Karlyne wrote: "Maith wrote: "Abigail wrote: "I'm totally with you, Maith! Loathed him and his phoniness. I think it was that and not supernatural powers of penetration that made me tag him as the killer right fro..."

This! So true! Reaching the age of DGAF is *very* useful!


message 47: by Nick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 438 comments This is my first Heyer mystery - I'm not a big murder mystery reader so I'm really quite pleased that I managed to tag Joe as the killer before the denoument. To be fair, I only got it after the inspector had ruled out Stephen - and who stands to profit if the heir is put away for murder? Obviously the next in line.

I only got the significance of the book at the very last minute when Joe was so pushy about not getting a new copy. Up until that point I'd been racking my brains trying to think how one locks a door from the outside with a book!? 😂

I was a bit confused about the method. I was under the impression that sometimes people don't realise they've been stabbed if they're attacked because adrenaline prevents you feeling pain? And if they're wearing tight corsets and several layers of clothes because all the fabric holds the wound together?
But Uncle Nat wasn't adrenalised or corseted was he?
(Please respond comfortingly - I don't want to believe it's possible that anyone could be stabbed on the stairs and not know it!)


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 2597 comments Mod
Nick wrote: "...(Please respond comfortingly - I don't want to believe it's possible that anyone could be stabbed on the stairs and not know it!)..."

I don't expect that the normal, everyday person without regular spasms of back pain could be stabbed on the stairs and not know it!


Barb in Maryland | 657 comments Nick
Uncle Nat did feel some sort of pain--but attributed it to his 'lumbago' acting up. The fact the he was actually stabbed never entered his mind! After all, Joseph was not visibly brandishing a weapon but had it cleverly concealed.


message 50: by Nick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nick Imrie (nickimrie) | 438 comments Yes, the lumbago! I suppose lumbago must be very painful then - if it's as bad as getting stabbed!


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