Tea Tonic and Toxin: Mystery and Thriller Podcast and Book Club

DEATH IN THE STOCKS by Georgette Heyer

When a man is found dead in a quaint English village, Inspector Hannasyde must unravel the secrets of the eccentric family involved. In DEATH IN THE STOCKS (1935), a beloved classic, Georgette Heyer infuses the traditional mystery with her signature style of historical romance (and its Regency romance sub-genre).

Reflect: Check out the conversation starters below.

Weigh In: Speak up, and you might get an on-air shout out and a fabulous sticker!

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Death in the Stocks - Georgette Heyer (2)

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Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer: Conversation Starters

Death in the Stocks - A Regency Romance
Death in the Stocks - Georgette Heyer (2)
Death in the Stocks - Georgette Heyer

Check out our Georgette Heyer conversation starters below. 

Humor + Mystery

Several of our books, though not many, have had elements of humor. There’s The Thin Man, with the witty Nick and Nora. And there’s this one, with humorous banter throughout. How successful did you feel the humor was?

At times, the banter reminded Carolyn a bit of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. These lines made Carolyn smile – Roger says to Hannasyde: “if I know just how much you know, it’ll save a great deal of bother. I mean, it’s no use my telling you I went to the Zoo if you’re going to prove I spent the day in the British Museum. At the same time, I don’t want to tell you anything I needn’t. You see my difficulty?” (224)

Of the characters in the novel, Dorothy L. Sayers said: ‘Miss Heyer’s characters and dialogue are an abiding delight to me…I have seldom met people to whom I took so violent a fancy from the word “Go”.’ 

“Death in the Stocks is not only a very neat and mystifying detective story, it is also an excellent example of what can be achieved when the commonplace material of detective fiction is worked up by an experienced novelist. Miss Heyer’s characters act and speak with ease and conviction that is as refreshing as it is rare in a mystery story.” ~ Jennifer Kloester

Regency Romance

From Goodreads: Georgette Heyer “was an intensely private person who remained a best selling author all her life without the aid of publicity. She made no appearances, never gave an interview and only answered fan letters herself if they made an interesting historical point.”

It’s fascinating that she seems to have invented the genre. Georgette Heyer wrote in two genres — regency romance and detective fiction — is there a crossover between the two?

One of the early romance attempts we saw was Trent’s Last Case, which may not have felt entirely believable. This felt much more successful in terms of creating a romance we were rooting for. The pacing was working in its favor.

Finding the Romance

Kenneth and Antonia both start the book engaged, and spend most of the book engaged, to people they don’t like and no one else likes. Took a bit to find where the romance would be emerging from in the story. Carolyn particularly enjoyed Tony’s “sorry not sorry” breakup with Rudolph (336).

Kenneth and Antonia Vereker

Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer includes interesting and unique characterizations of people who say exactly what they’re thinking, without malice. The siblings in particular seem to have a hard time relating to social niceties or expectations. They are both wholly lacking in tact and, at times, human feeling and good sense. They have zero interest in their half-brother’s murder (other than the 250,000€ inheritance coming Kenneth’s way) and couldn’t care less who killed him .

Hannasyde, the voice of reason, says that Tony “doesn’t appear to conceal a thing. It’s the same with her brother: you don’t know whether they’re very clever, or completely innocent, or a pair of lunatics” (170). At one point, Hannasyde wishes he could convict both siblings for murder. Charles Carrington refers to the siblings as “those Vereker brats” (177).

Hannasyde to Kenneth in reference to Roger’s death: “You have reminded me yourself that I am not a Vereker. I don’t joke on such matters.”

Kenneth: ‘These hands … are worth more than all Arnold’s filthy money, and when he’s been forgotten for centuries people will still be talking about me!” (103)

Kenneth and Antonia live in a home “decorated in a modernist style, with curtains and a carpet of cubist design.” Giles refers to the upper-crust bohemian Kenneth as “looking like a third-rate artist from Chelsea” (95) and says he hates his “effeminate tie.” It’s the Great Depression (1929-1939), but they seem to be doing just fine. Are these siblings modern? Are they rebels who reject traditional moral principles?

Were these characters charming or obnoxious? Do you feel the same about Kenneth as you do about Antonia? Carolyn feels she’s more daft and blindly privileged, whereas he’s more pretentious and wholeheartedly privileged.

Arnold Vereker

Everyone has a motive to kill this guy. Similar in a way to Murder on the Orient Express (Ratchett) and Trent’s Last Case (Sigsbee Manderson), there’s no shortage of motives. However, Carolyn isn’t entirely clear why the reader is meant to hate him. Giles says he had a “streak of appalling vulgarity” and that his chief hobbies were “women and social climbing.” So far he seems to share traits with several other characters. Arnold also seems to have halted some of Kenneth’s plans (request for 500€ to pay off debts) and Tony’s plans (marriage to Rudolph, the embezzler), but in Carolyn’s mind that simply makes Arnold a rational guy. Where did Georgette Heyer stand? Where do you stand?

Giles Carrington

Inspector Hannasyde of Scotland Yard is presumably the detective. But it seems Giles is the real detective. Giles calls Hannasyde “Watson”; Hannasyde calls Giles “Holmes.”

Violet

“What if I do like luxury? … If you’d been born with a taste for nice things, and never had a penny to spend which you hadn’t worked and slaved for, you’d feel the same! … Even my clothes I make myself!” Kenneth seems to disdain her and forbids her to talk about art (his domain) even though she herself is a designer by profession (66). (This scene reminds Carolyn of a scene in Malice Aforethought where Madeleine panders to Dr. Bickleigh, deferring to his superior knowledge of art and, really, everything.) On several occasions, Kenneth refers to Violet as vulgar and a mercenary and at one point says, “What a commonplace mind there is behind that lovely face!”

Is Violet’s desire for luxury a sign of vulgarity? Are Violet and Kenneth simply making what they feel to be an equitable exchange in marriage (looks; money)? In what ways is Violet different from Kenneth and Tony? Is she different?

And where does Georgette Heyer stand?

Torquemada Puzzle Book

The Torquemada Puzzle Book (60), a ‘Miscellany of Original Crosswords, Acrostics, Anagrams, Verbal Pastimes and Problems, was compiled by Torquemada (Edward Powys Mathers), a man of letters who set the world’s hardest cryptic puzzles for the Observer from 1926 until he died in 1939. The puzzle book was dedicated to E.C. Bentley. At the back of the book there is a short mystery novel, Cain’s Jawbone, which is dedicated to Dorothy Sayers.

The Ending: Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer

How soon were you able to predict the killer? Or did it come as a shock?

The book ended in an interesting way, between Carrington and Hannasyde. It didn’t wrap back around to a family reveal, or the killer’s reaction, or Tony and Carrington’s romance. The book ended with a bit of humor, policy and procedure. Thoughts?

Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer: Weigh In

Share your thoughts about the book (or about mysteries, detective stories, thrillers, or our podcast), and we may give you an on-air shoutout AND send you the world’s best sticker! (It is a pretty sweet sticker.)

About Tea, Tonic & Toxin

Tea, Tonic, and Toxin is a book club and podcast for people who love mysteries, detective stories, thrillers, introspection, and good conversation. Each month, your hosts, Sarah Harrison and Carolyn Daughters, will dive into the history of mystery to get a firsthand look at how the mystery genre evolved.

Along the way, we’ll entertain ideas, prospects, theories, doubts, and grudges, along with fabulous guests. And we hope to entertain you, dear friend. We want you to experience the joys of reading some of the best mysteries and thrillers ever written.

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