Harriet Vane is going on a walking tour of the coasts when she stumbles across the throat slit corpse of Paul Alexis Goldschmidt Realizing the sea is coming in for high tide and threatens the crime scene, she collects evidence and photographs and hikes her way to phone the police and the press because she s well aware of how the story could be spun if she doesn t get ahead of it Her only mistake the press rat her out to Lord Peter Wimsey who arrives at the coastal village the next day, ready to investigate this body of Vane s punsomewhat intended And then all the PLOT, CLUES and ALIBIS you could ever want, and then some Is this entire review me quoting huge swathes of this book MAYBE IT IS 1 NOTHING ELSE MATTERS By all means, said Harriet Where do you come from From London like a bird that hears the call of its mate I didn t began Harriet I didn t mean you I meant the corpse But still, talking of mates, will you marry me Certainly not I thought not, but I felt I might as well ask the question Did you say they had found the body CAN YOU BELIEVE 2 I think one of my favorite things in this is Harriet so clearly refusing to engage with her lust because she is just AWARE of Peter in a way that vaguely bothers her but not enough to make her STOP LOOKING, y knowAnd he strips better than I should have expected, she admitted candidly to herself Better shoulders than I realized and, thank Heaven, calves to his legsGORL WHY YOU THANKING HEAVEN FOR CALVES IF YOU AIN T PLANNING TO PUT THEM TO USE I ASK YOU and then she goes on to ogle him as he rides the horse Harriet mechanically picked up his hat and stood squeezing the crown absently in and out, with her eyes on the flying figure.
I MEAN I FEEL IT IN THE AIR TONIGHT 3 I am also dying at the fact that the thing that truly slays Harriet Vane is the realization that PETER WIMSEY KNOWS HOW TO RIDE A HORSE Harriet was silent She suddenly saw Wimsey in a new light She knew him to be intelligent, clean, courteous, wealthy, well read, amusing and enad, but he had not so far produced in her that crushing sense of utter inferiority which leads to protestation and hero worship But she now realized that there was something godlike about him He could control a horse.
AND THEN SHE GOES ON TO IMAGINE HIM ON A BIG OLD HORSE AND PUTS HERSELF ON AN EVEN BIGGER STEED AT HIS SIDE, AMID THE RESPECTFUL ADMIRATION OF THE ASSEMBLED NOBILITY AND GENRTYSHE WANTS TO BE HIS PARTNER, YO.
The fact that his horse riding something that is a presumed norm for someone in his station is what truly stops Harriet Vane in her tracks isbeautifully sad, encompassing what she views as the unbreachable divide between them Because Harriet Vane, too, is intelligent and clean and can be courteous when she chooses and is well read and perhaps not wealthy but not entirely a pauper, and but horses A new world 4 Harriet literally has so many feelings about how she feels and also how PETER should be feeling and it s just A LOT Silence for a few moments Harriet felt that Wimsey ought to be saying, How well you dance Since he did not say it, she became convinced that she was dancing like a wax doll with sawdust legs Wimsey had never danced with her, never held her in his arms before It should have been an epoch making moment for him.
And honestly the ENTIRE fight but specifically The fact that, until five minutes earlier, she had felt perfectly happy and at ease with this man, before she had placed both him and herself in an intolerable position, she felt somehow as oneadded to the list of his offenses She looked round for something really savage to do to him.
OH HARRIET YOU ANGRY, INJURED STARFISH.
AND THE PICNIC when she very much asks herself WHAT WOMAN COULD POSSIBLY NOT PICK LORD PETER HONESTLY nevermind why she s so cranky to Lord Peter IT DOESN T MATTER The curious inhibitions which caused her to be abrupt, harsh, and irritating with Lord Peter did not seem to trouble her in dealing with Henry Weldon Henry Weldon really imagined that, placed between Lord Peter and himself, a woman could possibly well, why not How was he to know It wouldn t be the first time that a woman had made a foolish choice.
5 Lord Peter is in this, too, I guess, and he proposes ALL OVER THE PLACEMiss Vane, Harriet, if I may call you so, will you marry me and look after my socks, and, incidentally be the only woman novelist who ever accepted a proposal of marriage in the presence of a superintendent and inspector of Police Not even for the sake of the headlinesand also races to make sure Harriet is OK after suffering the disgusting embraces of a potential murderer Also this because WHAT EVEN IS THIS MAN Wimsey raised his eyebrows, or, to beaccurate, the one eyebrow which was not occupied in keeping his monocle in place.
Mystery Writer Harriet Vane, Recovering From An Unhappy Love Affair And Its Aftermath, Seeks Solace On A Barren Beach Deserted But For The Body Of A Bearded Young Man With His Throat CutFrom The Moment She Photographs The Corpse, Which Soon Disappears With The Tide, She Is Puzzled By A Mystery That Might Have Been Suicide, Murder Or A Political PlotWith The Appearance Of Her Dear Friend Lord Peter Wimsey, She Finds A Reason For Detective Pursuit As Only The Two Of Them Can Pursue It This is the eighth book featuring Lord Peter Wimsey We first meet Harriet Vane, crime writer and previously on trial for murder, in, Strong Poison She then vanished in the next novel, Five Red Herrings, which I struggled with, and so I was pleased to become re acquainted with her in this story.
The book opens with Harriet Vane on a walking tour, when she finds the body of a man on a beach His throat has been cut and, with the tide coming in, Harriet attempts to contact the police but this involves such a long journey that the body has vanished by the time she manages to alert anyone The next morning the police and press are all gathered at the seaside watering place where Harriet is staying, and then Lord Peter Wimsey arrives.
The victim turns out to be a Russian professional dancer who, not only was paid to dance with the elderly ladies who visit the hotel, but had actually proposed marriage to one of them a very wealthy, and seemingly heartbroken lady, named Mrs Weldon As the investigation unfolds though, nothing seems to be clear cut there are disappearing witnesses, letters in ciphers and even tales of Bolsheviks I enjoyed this farthan the previous, Five Red Herrings Harriet Vane wasinvolved in this plot, but she did not take over and Lord Peter Wimsey had a large part in the investigation Dorothy L.
Sayers did not only create a fantastic sleuth in Wimsey, but gave him a good array of friends and family to flesh out the books so we have the intrepid Bunter tailing a suspect and a mention of his new brother in law, Parker, as well as lots of local police input Overall, an enjoyable addition to the series and I look forward to reading on.
I would say another Lord Peter mystery, but it saccurate to say, a Sayers book, marking the transitional point in the series where we stop having Lord Peter mysteries And start having Peter and Harriet books, I mean.
Not as enjoyable as I was expecting Peter and Harriet are, of course, rubbing along very complexly here, with suppressed romantic sentiment mostly Peter, but not all and resentment mostly Harriet, but not all There is only one real eruption between them the rest of the time they take carefully calculated shots, watch each other too closely, and very rarely get wrapped up in the puzzle and accidentally slide towards partnership.
And the puzzle I realize that the endless back and forth with layered theories and time tables and who done its and how done its is how this book works It s all about how mysteries are made, with Harriet applying her writer s eye to the problem of constructing a solution that isn t just possible, but balanced and right Unfortunately, I find that style with the endless theorizing extremely tedious But I think my real problem is that after all that commentary, those layered narratives and fictions, Peter does what Peter does what a golden age detective does and tootles off into the sunset, crime and victim s slotted in as just another pretty puzzle, just another story That sort of thing rubs me exactly the wrong way It s the opposite of the modern TV crime drama problem, where every episode has a connection to the investigator s tragical past so that the investigator is the real victim It s not like I m fond of that, but in the golden age tradition, there were no victims at all, because it s just an intellectual game And this book didn t interrogate that, the way it did most other parts of the mystery form.
Where I got the book my bookshelf Continuing my re read of the Wimsey books.
The plot novelist Harriet Vane takes a walking vacation along the south coast of England to work on the plot of her latest murder mystery, but finds the body of a young man instead Her suitor Lord Peter Wimsey is quickly on the scene, but the investigators are puzzled All the signs seem to point to a particular perpetrator, but his alibi for the time of death is rock solid Something is wrong with the picture but what Having waded through Five Red Herrings, I now feel like I m on the downhill slope of this reading marathon And what delights are before me Have His Carcase, Murder Must Advertise, The Nine Tailors and Gaudy Night are, imho, the Golden Age of the Wimsey books Sayers simply seems to hit her stride with Have His Carcase and the energy doesn t quit till Busman s Honeymoon, where Wimsey and Vane simply become too quotation ridden to be believable One of the beauties of Have His Carcase is the introduction of the inside of Harriet Vane s head, which is a delightfully down to earth counterpart to Wimsey s flights of fancy She is practical, forthright and yet never overly wonderful her insecurities and mistakes are laid bare for all to see, and she s definitely not always reasonable where Wimsey is concerned The introduction of a fully rounded character into the Wimsey books forces Sayers to make Wimsey himselfvulnerable, even as the list of his accomplishments stretches toward the exaggerated.
The only place where my attention flags a bit in this book is the long explanation of the code cracking, although it is very clever and no doubt puzzle buffs must thoroughly enjoy it I noticed, for the first time, that my 1977 edition was typeset the old fashioned way, making the code grids rather wobbly I m so glad I kept it, because it reminds me of how books used to be before all this newfangled computer stuff came in I would truly like to own the yellow jacketed Gollancz hardbacks the form in which I discovered the series, in my school library but I imagine they are collector s items and priced accordingly.
If I thought really hard about this novel I would probably discover its flaws Sayers herself cheerfully admitted that she screwed up sometimes But I was too busy reading it It s good but at times in this the Harriet Lord Peter banter just got too, too for me Come on, I know she keeps him off for years yet, but her push pull gets a bit arrogant and conceited to say the least.
The case is good but this one for me was just overlong Bunter is off on his own doing some inquiries too And travel abounds all around The part at the beginning when Harriet is just thinking on her walk was 5 star.
I like thesewhen they are majority in company I think Having read about 1 2 I don t seem to like the roving ones as much as the ones with 7 or 8 characters at dinner or some event or house party or hunt etc Some of the language is truly dated and it holds completely different meanings now but that was not a deterrent to me, just an observation Dago being a favorite and meaningthan just being French or dark Mediterranean or Italian but beyond that foreign only in capital letters.
To tell you the truth, this one with all the varying logistics for no footprints and fresh blood etc in 25 different maybes started to bore me Not my favorite, but not the poorest at least this one raised some witty eye brows and didn t have half the dialogue in dialect There s a pivotal point within all of this crux that I am fairly sure differs now in this decade, withchemical and elemental property s knowledge about the biologic from the forensics established here in this tale as true in the late 1920 s I might be wrong Yet in time when I haveaccess, I m going to look it up or ask a doctor who has done autopsies Hmmmm
I really loved rereading this one I knew I would, when I revisited the opening linesThe best remedy for a bruised heart is not, as so many people seem to think, repose upon a manly bosom Muchefficacious are honest work, physical activity, and the sudden acquisition of wealth After being acquitted of murdering her lover, and indeed, in consequence of that acquittal, Harriet Vane found all three specifics abundantly at her disposal and although Lord Peter Wimsey, with a touching faith in tradition, persisted day in and day out in presenting the bosom for her approval, she showed no inclination to recline upon it.
The way Harriet and Peter interact is brilliant and oh, how good it is to have Harriet saying no to Peter so determinedly, neither falling in love with him instantly because he s that perfect, nor agreeing to him to stop him pestering her which it is implied she did with her previous lover, nor playing him for a fool she is as honest as she can be about how she feels and doesn t feel, and he doesn t expect or want to play on the clich s of gratitude and so on either , and their sometimes strained partnership as a crime solving duo is awesome Bunter gets some very good moments too, and the whole scenario is satisfyingly convoluted.
Granted, if you ve read it before, you do get the urge to shake Peter for making certain assumptions, and the code breaking part becomes evenboring, but overall, it stands up well to a second or third reading.
EXCERPT She was within a few yards of the rock now, gazing up at the sleeper He lay uncomfortably bunched up on the extreme seaward edge of the rock, his knees drawn high and showing his pale mauve socks The head, tucked closely down between the shoulders, was invisible What a way to sleep said Harriet More like a cat than a human being It s not natural His head must almost be hanging over the edge It s enough to give him apoplexy Now, if I had any luck, he d be a corpse, and I should report him and get my name in the papers That would be something like publicity Well Known Woman Mystery Writer Finds Corpse on Lonely Shore But these things never happen to authors It s always some placid laborer or night watchman who finds corpses ABOUT THIS BOOK Mystery writer Harriet Vane, recovering from an unhappy love affair and its aftermath, seeks solace on a barren beach deserted but for the body of a bearded young man with his throat cut.
From the moment she photographs the corpse, which soon disappears with the tide, she is puzzled by a mystery that might have been suicide, murder or a political plot.
With the appearance of her dear friend Lord Peter Wimsey, she finds a reason for detective pursuit as only the two of them can pursue it.
MY THOUGHTS .
5 stars for this delightful Whimsey novel that had my brain bouncing all about my head, rather like the ball inside a pinball machine We have an older woman, desperate for love her younger lover who wants an empire and a son who sees his inheritance disappearing into the clutches of a gigolo And so the scene is set for a murder Simple It could have been, but.
This is one of the most complicated murders I have ever read But also one of the most entertaining We have the involvement of the Russians, a little reminiscent of the missing Russian Princess Anastasia, and a whole plethora of red herrings for Lord Peter and Miss Vane to fish through.
5 of a star is due to the numerous pages devoted to cipher codes, which I admit to skimming With that small exception, this remains one of my favorite Lord Peter Wimsey novels THE AUTHOR Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.
Dorothy L Sayers is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante s Divina Commedia to be her best work She is also known for her plays and essays.
DISCLOSURE I own my copy of Have His Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers, published by Open Road Media I read this book in 2016 as part of a Goodreads Group read All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions Please refer to my Goodreads.
com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.
com for an explanation of my rating system This review and others are also published on my blog sandysbookaday.
The plot was, I think, overly convoluted, artificial and implausible, although still miles better than, say, Clouds of Witness I do not think I can ever contemplate the denouement of that book without cringing a little at the sheer implausibility of it I m not sure how it could have been thought to be a suicide at all, given the violence of the death wound I did, however, like the way in which Sayers wove the solving of the mystery in with the fact that Harriet is, herself, a mystery writer, and even a certain slyly humourous acknowledgement of the conventions of the Golden Age detective novel I was terribly amused at Harriet s thinking that it would be very fun if the man on the rock turned out to be dead, and would therefore be found by a famous murder mystery writer, and then the dead pan Harriet s luck was in There isthan a little acknowledgement of the artificiality of the genre, especially with the endless constructions and reconstructions of what might happen, and the obsessive gathering of pieces of evidence that usually turn out to be worthless.
There were also points in which I felt that the plot could be trimmed slightly the solving of the code, for example My eyes just glazed over and I skipped forwards several pages While I m sure Dorothy L Sayers was delighted to show us all that she had constructed a code that actually worked, I frankly couldn t have given a monkeys.
The verbal sparring between Harriet and Peter was a treat as always, and it was their interaction that provided most of the tension and the drama I loved how muchwe got to see of Peter outside of the foppish persona he s built up for himself, and how Harriet is being developed much , warts and all The tentative attraction that developed in Strong Poison is developed here into an evententative courtship that is slowly, ever so slowly being built on, and which will eventually climax in Gaudy Night I don t think it s as strong a novel as Gaudy Night then again, that s one of my favourite ever books but I do think it s well on the way to developing the characters which are the reason that it is my favourite.