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Duplicate Death

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Gaelic Obfuscation

	Take a step back in time to the manners and mores of white, middle-class England.  The basic assumptions in many areas were being challenged (and have been throughout history) but society maintained its rigid backbone and an extra man at a dinner party remained golden, no matter how churlish or ill-thought of.  Playing on and with these conventions, Ms Heyer crafted an extremely clever double murder mystery for us to solve while helping us to laugh at some of the stiffer notions of propriety and aiding our ability to see them in context, conventions generally meant to protect and not just stifle.  Be prepared to stretch your mind trying to work out the basics of means, motive, and opportunity while being thoroughly entertained by the interactions among the characters.
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An invitation to a card party brings a former case's suspects back into Chief Inspector Hemingway's current investigation. The murder of a guest leads to a second Duplicate Death. It takes Hemingway and his team of Inspectors and help from an old friends to figure out who the killer or murderer are. Who killed the guest with the secrets? Who would want to the hostess of the card party dead? Are the Duplicate Deaths connected?

A letter from Jim Kane's mother has him looking into the relationship between his half brother Timothy Harte and the woman he's reportedly unofficial betrothal to Beulah Birtley. Going on business to London gives him a chance to check in with his brother. 

Thirteen years later and several promotions from Sergeant in The Found Him Dead, now Chief Inspector Hemingway is called to the scene of an upper society murder. A bridge card game party has turned into a murder scene. He soon discovers a connection to a case from thirteen years before. Now, all grown up and in love with the secretary of the hostess of the party Timothy Harte is back in Hemingway's sights, who he knew years earlier called Terrible Timothy from the Kane case.  Timothy has made himself Beulah's lawyer. Hemingway's case progresses and he realizes that the murdered man isn't as well liked as it seems and has a shady life that he must unravel. The case is complicated by lies and several suspects, including Beulah Birtley, the hostess's secretary, who Hemingway has knowledge of her recent past. He encourages Beulah to reveal her past to Timothy before anyone else does.He goes to Timothy for information on the people at the bridge party. Only to come back in touch with Timothy's older half brother Jim Kane. Hemingway's suspects take a turn when the hostess of the card party is murdered in a duplicate way. He must figure out if the two murders are connected or if two they're separate. With the help of Kane and Harte, Hemingway rules out Beulah as a suspect. Hemingway focuses on two suspects and with the help of his assistant Inspector Grant talks to one while he talks to the other for the hostess's murder. A clues are revealed to who committed the murders. Beulah reveals her past to Timothy and it doesn't make a difference in his feelings and she accepts his proposal. With the help of Timothy's half brother they bring around their mother to accept Beulah. Hemingway comes up with a solution to the case and solves both murders. 

Kane is home with his wife and reveals the story of what went on with Timothy and Beulah and how their mother wanted Beulah to come for a weekend visit. Jim wants something done about the nanny.

A Duplicate Death brings back together the Kane/Harte family from They Him Dead with now Chief Inspector Hemingway, by way of a murder at a bridge card game party at an upper society house, where Timothy Harte is a guest. Georgette Heyer writes a mysterious. keep you guessing story of murder, secrets in the 1940s. It's after World War II and life has gotten back to normal in England. Her writing is an old fashioned who dun it. I never figured out who killed the second victim until reading the last chapter.
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Bridge game turns murderous in this enjoyable country house murder mystery. Inspector Hemingway is assigned the case and soon uncovers scandal and subterfuge under the rather seemingly perfect exterior of the house and it's inhabitants. A fun and frivolous plot told with gentle humour, eccentric and colourful characters - many quite unpleasant - together with red herrings aplenty make for a very enjoyable, light hearted read.
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A card party hosted by a woman whose credentials do not seem very sound. But she is able to attract to the table very high flying people including the aristocracy. She has also been able to get one of the most capable hostesses to introduce her daughter to high society. There seems to be a history behind the woman but no one knows anything about it.

When two deaths in identical manner take place at the house within a short period of time, the hunt is one to find a very determined and bold killer. When the Secretary to the hostess Miss Birtley is suspect Timothy who is madly in love with Miss. Birtley will leave no stone unturned to prove her innocence. With two capable detectives also following all leads, the story is a bit complicated with side stories of drug running, blackmail all in high society adding a piquancy to the story.

Nor like Miss. Heyer's usual Regency Romances which I love, this was also very good in a different style.
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Duplicate Death is the 7th mystery featuring inspectors Hannasyde and Hemingway by Georgette Heyer. Originally published in 1951, this reformatting and re-release was published 7th May 2019 by Sourcebooks. It's 400 pages and available in paperback, ebook, and audio formats.

This is a well written classic British murder mystery with varied characters (many unlikable and rather awful) in a high society setting. I will say that this mystery shows its age more than a lot of her other books which I've read. There were a number of fairly offensive racist/sexist/intolerant themes in the book which diminished my enjoyment somewhat. Even the otherwise decent and evenhanded Inspector Hemingway's descriptions of one character's 'flamboyant' homosexuality made me sad and uncomfortable.  I do know that the book is a product of its time, and to read 60+ year old books means that the reader should be prepared to do so with the understanding that we're viewing them through the lens of our (supposed) progress.

There's a surprising amount of humor throughout the book and the denouement is well written and the 'whodunit' plays by the rules of fair play.

The thing about Georgette Heyer is that the reader pretty much knows exactly what they're getting and it's always an enjoyable journey.

I appreciate Sourcebooks for making these books available to a new generation of readers, and especially in electronic format.

Four stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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Georgette Heyer lived from 1902 to 1974. She wrote in two genres: historical romance and detective fiction. Heyer was immensely popular; she “wrote 57 bestselling novels over the course of a career that spanned more than 50 years.” Duplicate Death was originally published in 1951. The title is a nod to duplicate bridge, a bridge tournament where every table is issued exactly the same cards, thus making bridge-playing skills more important than chance.

Mrs. Haddington, a well-known “social-climbing” London hostess, hosts an evening of duplicate bridge with 11 separate tables. That night, Mr. Seaton-Carew—a well-known, notorious man about town—is murdered in her cloakroom. The method: strangulation by picture wire. Without giving too much away, there’s an identical murder a few days later. The lady of the house cares only for her position in society and her exquisitely beautiful 19-year-old daughter, Cynthia.

Mrs. Haddington is surrounded by servants, all of whom despise her, although the generous salary paid to her butler and chef ensures loyalty, at least on the surface. Miss Beulah Birtley is her right-hand woman—underpaid, overworked, and taken for granted. Rising barrister Timothy Harte would dearly love to take Beulah away from her hideous job, but he can’t convince his lady-love to say yes to his proposal. There’s a mystery to the downtrodden factotum. Lastly, there’s Miss Spennymoor, “who was known to her many patronesses as ‘a little woman who comes to me,’ […] a small and spare spinster, who eked out a precarious livelihood by trotting cheerfully all over London to sew in other people’s houses.” What Miss Spennymoor doesn’t know about London society, going back decades, is not worth knowing.

Heyer is justly famous for two things: her flair for dialogue and her detailed descriptions. Beulah tells Timothy that they can’t be wed, saying her reasons have “got nothing to do with you.”

‘It has everything to do with me. You have plighted your troth to me, my girl.’


‘It’s no use. I can’t marry you.’


‘Then I shall sue you for breach of promise. Why, by the way, have you had this sudden change of heart?’


‘It isn’t possible. I must have been crazy! I can’t think why you want to marry me!’


‘Good lord, didn’t I tell you? I love you!’


She muttered: ‘Yes, you told me. That’s what I – what I don’t understand! Why should you?’


‘Oh, I shouldn’t worry over that, if I were you!’ said Timothy kindly. ‘Of course, if you insist, I’ll enumerate the various things which attract me to you, but they really haven’t got much to do with it. To be thoroughly vulgar, we just clicked. Or didn’t we?’ Her face quivered; she gave a rather convulsive nod. ‘Yes, but -’


‘There you are, then. You know, for an intelligent girl, you say some remarkably stupid things. You’d be properly stymied if I asked you what you saw in me to fall in love with, wouldn’t you?’


A flicker of humour shone in her eyes. ‘No, I shouldn’t,’ she replied. ‘Anyone can see what I fell for at a glance! Exactly what about fifty other girls have fallen for.’

Timothy is so reminiscent of Heyer’s historical Regency heroes: insouciant, intelligent, light-hearted, and a lovely pair of shoulders for Beulah to lean on, if only she would. If she was holding back before, she becomes even more reluctant to lean on Timothy after she’s a suspect in Mr. Seaton-Carew’s death. Inspector Hemingway, of Heyer’s eight-book Hannasyde & Hemingway series, heads up the investigation.

Heyer’s attention to detail transcends mere description. Mrs. Haddington’s house on Charles Street is “distinguished internally, according to young Mr. Harte, by an absence of individual taste which made it instantly remarkable.”

Nothing in the furnishing of its lofty rooms suggested occupation. From the careful arrangement of expensive flowers in the various bowls to the selection of illustrated periodicals, neatly laid out on a low table before the drawing-room fire, the house reminded the visitor of nothing so much as an advertisement of some high-class furnishing emporium. Sofas and chairs of the most luxurious order were upholstered in the same material which masked the tall windows, and were provided with cushions which, embellished with large tassels, were exactly placed, and incessantly plumped up, either by her butler, or by Mrs. Haddington herself.

We know so much about Mrs. Haddington after reading the above passage; her visitors are meant to see a “high-class” drawing room, but her frantic, “incessant” plumping of “exactly placed” cushions, reveals her insecurity.

The television series Murder, She Wrote relied on a satisfying formula: “Clues were carefully dropped. A murder was committed. Jessica moved into action.” Substitute Inspector Hemingway for Jessica and note that the clues in Duplicate Death are carefully embedded in conversations and descriptions.

After all is revealed, one is tempted to do a reading “flashback showing where a mistake had been made,” as was the custom in Murder, She Wrote. Georgette Heyer carefully delineates a world that is foreign in many ways to life in the 21st century, but the passions that motivate people are timeless. Acting out of loyalty and/or fear will never go out of style—which is also true of the detective novels of Georgette Heyer.
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A murder at a bridge party - followed a day or two later by the murder, in the exact same way, of the chief suspect. Will Chief Inspector Hemmingway manage to unravel the mystery?

With Heyer's usual good writing and interesting 'decor' (thanks, Hemmingway!), and supporting characters like 'Terrible Timothy' (from 'They found him dead' - but now grown up enough to have a romance of his own), Cynthia (who should have been strangled herself), and the detective Grant, this is an enjoyable mystery with an intriguing background story. 

Content: Clean, but with occasional swearing and blasphemy.

Note that I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and this is my considered opinion of the book.
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As always Georgette Heyer never disappoints. Witty, engaging, and well written.

Thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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It’s been an absolute pleasure to indulge in a Georgette Heyer novel. I love her observational and descriptive skills which are very much present in the characters walking the pages of this novel. Set in 1950’s London, the language used to tell this takes the reader back to that time in history.
This book may come as a shock to modern readers who are used to more action and perhaps less time to indulge in studying people and the little mannerisms that make each one unique, but take the time to indulge and slowly you will realise what a wonderful wordsmith Ms Heyer was.
Moving on from the language to the actual plot of this story, which is, I imagine, why most people pick up a book, and this one is skilfully constructed. Through the course of the book two people are killed, but it is the careful way in which Chief Inspector Hemingway slowly unveils the reasons why each of the victims might have been killed by this person or that, then determines who the actual killer is. I was engrossed early on and quite sad to close the book at the end.
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I'm a huge fan of Georgette Heyer and I think this is one of her best mystery.
Somehow the characters, the dialogues and the descriptions reminded me of her Regency novel: lovely, humorous and engaging.
The mystery was good, no plot hole, and it kept me guessing till the end.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Another Vintage English Manor Mystery
This is another of Georgette Heyer's vintage English manor house cozy mysteries from the 1930s. These books are still wonderful reading. While reading, I see an old black and white movie playing out the scene. These are a fun piece of period work as well as darn good mysteries. This book is very fast paced and it flies past! I received this ARC of the digital release for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.
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A select dinner party followed by a more general bridge evening goes horribly wrong for the hostess Mrs Haddington. On taking a telephone call in the Boudoir a guest at the party is found murdered. Thankfully for most of the guests they are not suspected. Inspector Hemingway is called in to investigate. Just when he believes he knows the killer another body is discovered. Killed in the same way. What could be the possible connection between the two dead people and what motive for their deaths.
Originally written in 1951.
I found this to be an enjoyable read and an interesting if slow-paced mystery.
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A civilised game of Duplicate Bridge ends in a double murder in which both victims were strangled with a tourniquet of picture wire. The crimes seem identical, but were they carried out by the same hand? The odds of solving this crime are stacked up against Chief Inspector Hemingway. Fortunately, this first-rate detective doesn't miss a trick.
Another traditional whodunit, this novel moves forward in time & is set in the 1950's, we also meet some of the characters from her earlier novel ‘They found him Dead’ Timothy is now all grown up, I’d recommend reading the earlier novel first. Red herrings abound but Hemingway isn’t fazed. An interesting, captivating read
My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read
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I really enjoy Georgette Heyer's Regency romances, so I was excited to read one of her mysteries (courtesy of NetGalley). Duplicate Death is book #7 in the Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway series, but you can read the books out of order. The only other book I've read from this series is They Found Him Dead (book #3), which uses many of the same characters that appear in book #7.

Duplicate Death is an enjoyable mystery that can't seem to decide if it wants to be a screwball comedy or a hard boiled detective story. Though it was first published in 1951, it still has the feel of a Golden Age mystery from the 1930's. While not a fast paced thriller, the story did throw enough curves to keep me guessing till the end. Definitely recommend this for fans of Agatha Christie.
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First sentence: There were several promising-looking letters in the pile laid on Mrs. James Kane's virgin breakfast-plate on Monday morning, but, having sorted all the envelopes with the air of one expectant of discovering treasure-trove, she extracted two addressed to her in hands indicative either of illiteracy or of extreme youth.

Premise/plot: Duplicate Death should never, ever, ever be read before They Found Him Dead. Trust me--please. The novel opens and closes with the stars of They Found Him Dead now happily married and the parents of four children. (Patricia Allison and James "Jim" Kane). Why the novel opens and closes with them remains a mystery to me.

Timothy HARTE is madly in love with a young woman, Miss Beulah Birtley. Miss Birtley is working for a difficult woman, Mrs. Haddington; Mrs. Haddington has a beautiful daughter, Cynthia. If it was up to Mrs. Haddington--which it isn't--Cynthia and Timothy would make a match of it. Both young people are at a bridge party at the Haddington house--though I don't quite remember if Miss Birtley is a "guest" or "staff" at the time--when a murder occurs. The investigators from the case are Hannasyde and Hemingway. Both remember Timothy Harte from their previous acquaintance. Both are listed among the suspects, though neither tops the list of SUSPECTS. A second murder throws the investigation off--for a while.

My thoughts: It annoys me that the jacket copy is INACCURATE for this one. Is it really so terribly hard to get a name right? Timothy KANE is not a character in the book. He doesn't exist. Not existing, he doesn't have a fiancee who's a prime suspect. However, Timothy HARTE does exist and does have a fiancee, though she's not really a prime suspect. Also the book stresses the friendship between Timothy KANE and the inspectors; I would say that is misleading as well. Fourteen years--give or take--have gone by without them speaking to each other or "hanging out." I doubt that the Inspectors were thinking of or missing Timothy in all those years. And probably the same could be said for Timothy. They were acquaintances that were on friendly terms--nothing more, nothing less.

All that being said, I liked this one well enough. The dialogue was good.
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This is one of Georgette Heyer's later murder mystery books, but it features some characters that appeared in an earlier one, They Found Him Dead. I read that not so long ago, so while some time has passed in the book world, the characters were still quite fresh in my mind. I remember with that book, being particularly taken with 14-year-old terrible Timothy. While he might now be a young man in his twenties, he, fortunately, didn't seem to have changed much in this book and was just as much fun to read about. The Chief Inspector, also featured in the previous book, although in that one he was a humble sergeant. He certainly had a soft spot of Terrible Timothy and overall he is one of the more entertaining and interesting detectives that you come across.
Like many of Heyer's murder mysteries, indeed like many from this period, this is quite slow moving, particularly at the start. It takes a little while for the murder to even take place. If you like your murders fast moving, then this might be a little gentle for you, but I loved this old fashioned story. 
In terms of the mystery itself, I'm afraid that I hadn't a clue who the guilty party was. I had a few ideas about who it wasn't but didn't manage to establish who had actually done it. It was a very enjoyable read and I liked trying to solve it, even if I didn't get anywhere. Georgette Heyer is usually remembered for her Regency Romances, as much as I love them, I think it's a real shame that she doesn't get more recognition for these fantastic murder mysteries.
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In London, a social climbing woman is hosting a card party. Two people are murdered by the same method, they were strangled by picture wire. Inspector Hemingway is on the case, but when the fiancé of his friend becomes the main suspect, he has to figure out the truth to clear her name.
I really wanted to like this novel because I thought Footsteps in the Dark was a great one. But, I couldn’t get through the slow pace and the murder took about 100 pages to occur. By that time, I wasn’t really interested in what happened or the culprit’s identity. I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley and am voluntarily reviewing it.
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Though Georgette Heyer was a favourite author as a teenager, reading her murder mystery as an adult is less engrossing and too wordy. The dated language is hard to grasp, the plot mystery too long in coming and the jokes not that funny or witty. So many exclamation marks. Every time Chief Inspector Hemingway spoke, it was in exclamation marks as if that accentuated his wittiness. It didn’t.

Society hostess, Mrs. Haddington, invites a large number of guests to a “duplicate bridge” party, when a guest is murdered. He is found garrotted by picture wire in Mrs. Haddington’s boudoir, where he had gone to take a call. Six persons had access to the victim just before he died. Chief Inspector Hemingway interviews each, in the attempt to discern a motive. He is assisted by the Scottish, Inspector Sandy Graham, who had the annoying habit of speaking Gaelic (untranslated) at every turn.

The morning of the bridge party, Mrs. Haddington had asked her secretary, Miss Beulah Birtley, to buy picture wire, which she had left in the ‘cloakroom’ (aka toilet/ restroom). This was the inventive murder weapon. Beulah was one of the last to see the deceased alive, though many disliked the man. One of our protagonists, Beulah Birtley, is described as having a suspicious past, and Timothy Kane, a young barrister, is in love with her. He is determined to protect his would-be fiancée from suspicion of murder.

A few days later, there is a second murder by the same means in the same spot. Secrets are unearthed as Hemingway scrutinises alibis and personal histories. The author brings in homosexual characters, who are described in the non-PC terms of the time as ‘pansies’ and being effeminate; and tackles the prevailing homophobia. An interesting, police procedural all around, set in post-war Britain, with the use of a creative murder means. The title is a clever play on the bridge game and the number and style of the murders. It was a slower read than I would have expected from Georgette Heyer.
I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, in exchange for an honest review.
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Georgette Heyer rarely disappoints. Her mysteies are on par with Agatha Cristie with more in depth characters. Highly recommended.
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Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer is another installment in Inspectors Hannasyde and Hemingway Mystery series.

The main character is Timothy Harte who has fallen under the charms of Miss Beulah Birtley, who in turn is totally unacceptable for him in his mother's opinion, Thus his older half brother has to step on a scene and intervene. 
Interesting part is the Timothy has already been featured in an another book when he was only 14 years old and a pesky boy at that.
Murder happens at a bridge party and Inspectors enter the scene. 

As always great story, with likable main characters, Well rounded side characters typical of any time and situation. I especially like the setting.
Many secrets  and enough twists and turns to keep the plot interesting.
What I didn't particularly liked was the old fashioned and stilted language which is Ms. Heyer's mark however at certain times I found it very hard to follow the story.
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