‘You’re right, sir. A very unsatisfactory case,’ the Inspector said.
I don’t mind a bleak story. I even prefer a bleak story to a cheesy happy one, but I do mind mind boredom and exaggerated drama.
So, when Penhallow’s first 300 pages (of a 458 page book) could have been adequately achieved in 80 and the build-up of the family drama dragged on and on, it really annoyed me. And it isn’t as if there was much character development to substitute for the lack of plot – endless bickering and people being vile to each other is not a development.
In fact, to borrow a term from the book, I “cordially detested” that it took 300 pages of repetitive, over-written drama to get to the point where the interesting part of the story started.
On top of that, old Penhallow’s speeches were almost the same every time, using the same or very similar interjections of reaffirming questions, “by God”, “my girl/boy”, “damme”, etc.
The over-use of the same phrases and patterns gets old quickly. What’s more, it makes it very hard to believe that none of the family rolled their eyes at him and told him to stuff it. To me the whole setup just wasn’t credible … until the end. The ending was quite realistic.
I rather liked the ending for being so bleak but realistic in the way that secrets and intentions may have consequences that no one could have foreseen.
Actually, I thought the events following Penhallow’s demise were the best part of the book.
As for Heyer, this is my second of her books and I don’t think Heyer is for me. I have one more of hers (Footsteps in the Dark), but will probably put that one off for quite a while, if I ever get around to it.