Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer
Okay, first of all, don’t you love this cover?
When Arnold Vereker is found stabbed to death in the stocks in the town where he has his vacation home, the problem isn’t so much finding suspects as finding people that are not suspects. Vereker was the unmarried possessor of his father’s great fortune and his half-brother and sister hated him, in addition to having financial motives. Arnold refuses to lend half-brother Kenneth any money to pay off debts or buy an engagement ring for his fiancée; half-sister Antonia’s beau, Rudolph, is denigrated by Arnold to her in a letter and Arnold quarrels with Rudolph the day he dies. It certainly doesn’t help that Antonia and Kenneth are absolutely ridiculous characters. They have no compunction to let everyone know just how little they mourn the passing of their half-brother. In fact, they have quite a rollicking good time teasing that perhaps they did murder him. Their cousin and lawyer Giles Carrington acts as an intermediary between the police and the eccentric Verekers while he tries to get to the bottom of the murder.
Okay, I totally dug this book. I’d read one Heyer before, one of her historical romances. I could tell why people liked her, thought it would be a good comfort read, but wasn’t totally into it. “Death in the Stocks,” though? SO MUCH FUN. Antonia and Kenneth were ridiculous, frivolous, and insipid, and I LOVED them. I don’t know, most of the time characters like that would have driven me batty, but they totally worked for me. I did figure out who the murderer was about halfway through the book, but I still enjoyed it through to the end.