A Christmas Party: A Seasonal Murder Mystery, by Georgette Heyer — A Review

From the desk of Sophia Rose:

A “Holiday Whodunnit” during a locked door English country house party is always a delicious prospect for me. I eagerly cracked open, A Christmas Party, by the renowned Georgette Heyer. Famous for her Regency romances and historical fiction, she also wrote several contemporary murder mysteries set in the 1930’s to the 1950’s, the golden age of detective fiction. I soon settled in for some enjoyment.

A Colorful Assortment of Guests

The jocular old uncle staying with his crotchety brother at Nat’s country house is determined to have a Christmas house party. Joseph pulls together a motley group of people and there is no hope that his naive attempt will not end in disaster. Nat’s niece, Paula, brings with her a promising young playwright hoping to convince her uncle to back a play when he doesn’t even care for such stuff and doesn’t want her involved. His nephew, Stephen, an argumentative young man brings down his fiancé’ whom Nat sees as a little gold-digger whom he can’t stand. Then, there is Nat’s business partner whose latest business proposal irritates him to no end. Joseph and his distant wife Maude along with family friend, Matilda round out the party.

Tis the Season for Murder

It is ghastly affair from the start, compounded by Nat’s murder behind the locked door of his room. Scotland Yard Inspector Hemingway arrives. He has his work cut out for him with so many suspects and hidden motives. He is also stuck on the means and opportunity with that frustrating locked door.

Low-Key Murder and Mayhem

The characters were mostly cantankerous types, yet I did find their rancor fascinating. It was amusing to have the vapid, stunning, albeit cunning Valerie with her histrionics set against the placid and uninteresting Maude boring people with her book on Elisabeth of Austria. It was a low-key murder and mayhem piece that I found engaging.

A New Edition for a Great Storyteller

As the second book in Heyer’s Inspector Hemingway series, readers should be aware that the mystery was originally published in 1941 as Envious Casca. This new edition by Sourcebooks was retitled A Christmas Party in 2016. None-the-less, Heyer is a great storyteller. While her large cast of quirky characters were well-crafted, the plot wasn’t as sparkling as I expected. At times it dragged and some of the characters came across as annoying instead of humorous. However, it still afforded a good mystery. I figured out quickly enough who did it and why, but I was pleasantly surprised as to the how.

Engaging and Immersive

All in all, A Christmas Party was a festive, appealing, and immersive cozy period mystery. Not the best by the author, but still engaging.

4 out of 5 Stars


  • A Christmas Party: A Seasonal Murder Mystery, by Georgette Heyer
  • Sourcebooks Landmark (October 4, 2016)
  • Trade paperback & eBook (400) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1492644705
  • Genre: Historical Mystery, Detective Fiction


We purchased a copy of the book for our own enjoyment. Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark © 2016; text Sophia Rose © 2022, Austenprose.com, an Amazon affiliate.


Did you know that Austenprose has reviewed all of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romance and historical fiction novels? Visit our Georgette Heyer Archive to read thoughtful and insightful book reviews and articles about the Queen of Regency Romance. 

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12 thoughts on “A Christmas Party: A Seasonal Murder Mystery, by Georgette Heyer — A Review

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  1. This was lovely to read and coincidently, I spotted a book by Ms. Heyer while attending a library’s book sale but I did not select this book, I passed upon it and I can’t even recall its title, I am sorry to say. I was only familiar with the name; always being observed by folks as I am easily read like a proverbial bad book, but not everything is about me, so I don’t make sense.
    I am a slow learner and it is good to know what is what; like Regency and such. I did not pick that up while at university, I missed it somehow. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing your lovely review just in time for holiday reading, Sophia. I have read Heyer’s Regency romances and historical fiction, but not her mysteries. I am ready to dive into this one thanks to you!


  3. I was surprised that I didn’t have this book as I do have all her romances and mysteries. Then reading the review I knew that I had read it and I finally saw that it was a new title for a book I do have. I love her work and her subtle humour and they have always been my go to rereads. Although not as much since I found JAFF.


    1. Good call for Laurel Ann choosing that the alternative title be mentioned in my review. :) Yes, it is confusing when there are title changes. I do love rereading and relistening to my favorites among her books and this is one of them.


  4. I love Georgette Heyer’s books. I know I read this one but I’m not sure what I thought of it. Time for a reread I think!!


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