The Book Report: Lord Peter Wimsey, younger brother of the Duke of Denver, bibliophile, and dilettante in the arts and sciences of murder, meets his One True Love, the Other Half of His Soul; where else would he do this, but in court? Too bad she's the accused in a rather sensational murder trial, in which she is accused and about to be convicted of poisoning by arsenic her Illicit Lover, now ex after having the *temerity* to propose honorable and legal marriage to her.
He was, it turns out, having her on when he refused to countenance the idea of marriage; he was counting on his Peculiar Charms to sway his Muse and fellow novelist into revealing her true depths of devotion to him by setting this test.
Having fallen (and Fallen) for it, Harriet felt (not at all unreasonably) that she'd been a right prat and, in umbrage extreme, slung the rotter out on his ear, refusing thereafter to treat his suit.
Subsequent to their final meeting, unluckily, the rotter collapses and dies at his cousin's home, where he's been living for over a year since the end of the dream.
Lord Peter, attending the trial (as who would not?) with the Hon.
Freddy and the Dowager Duchess of Denver (aka Mater), forms the simultaneous convictions that Harriet is innocent, and that she shall be Lady Wimsey as soon as the event can be fixed.
How to forestall the hangman's deft attentions is his sole focus, needless to say, and he goes about proving the identity of the real culprit with his accustomed panache, energy, and cunning.
Ah, but stay the strains of the Wedding March, dear readers, because Harriet.
is Once Bitten, Twice Shy re: matrimony.
She offers herself as his leman, his dollybird, his bit o' stuff, but marriage? To a wellknown aristocrat, with all the attendant hoo and pla? No, indeed.
Wimsey is, well, not to fobbed off with mere sex when what he craves is glory and delight everlasting in matrimony golden, so he ankles off as soon as he sees her acquitted.
Only, of course, not so much.
But that's another book.
My Review: A Certain Party, who shall remain nameless herein but is frequently addressed by me as "Horrible" and is known on LibraryThing as "karenmarie", has really, really put her foot in it this time.
I mention, oh so casually in passing, that long, long ago I read and disliked this book.
"Oh," burbles The Evil One, "I read that and found it both witty and amusing, don't you think it would be fun to reread it?" I, ever the innocent and naive victim, forgot that the aforementioned Evil One has hooked me on everso many mystery series with her offhand cruelty, fell for it and reread the book.
Reader, beware! NEVER VENTURE NEAR HER! You'll end up reading long lists of (admittedly quite good) mysteries.
Wimsey is certainly not for every taste.
His erudition, not notably fine for that era, is huge by modern standards, and so his references to poets, writers, and cultural furniture quite ordinary in the 1930s, will come across as condescending to thos of this less wellversed (!) time and place.
His general attitude of privilege might cause some sensitive souls in the era of Political Correctness to flinch.
And Sayers' lovely, steady, and quite dry prose will go down like a martini at a Salvation Army bash with the modern reader accustomed to gutter talk, explosions, gunshots, and generally seamy turpitude that passes for most modern mysteries.
And thank GOD for that.
It's a breath of chamomilescented mountain meadow air to me to refind these books in a state and at a time when I can appreciate them.
No one tell The Evil One, blast her eyes, that I am thoroughly glad to have read this book at 51 that I understood and so little of at 25.
Loose lips sink ships! A solid 4 star read and another enjoyable Wimsey.
More tomorrow (soon) 😬
And for once it is tomorrow as I put pen to paper, well fingers to a keyboard.
So firstly as I really enjoyed it, let me address why it isn't 5 stars, but only 4.
Well, I felt that (view spoiler)[ Lord Peter really didn't do a great deal of investigating.
With the exception of noticing the typewriter clue, he sent other people to do the investigating for him : Bunter investigating Hannah Westlock, Miss Murchison at Mr Urquhart's office and Miss Climpson at the house of Mrs Wrayburn.
Ok he had the sense to send them to places where they may find out details, but a lot of it was highly irregular if not illegal (hide spoiler)] In 1847, the average woman who read novels apparently wanted Mr Rochester.
In 1930, she wanted Lord Peter Wimsey.
And in 2015, she wants Christian Grey.
This is called progress.
Lord Peter Wimsey meets the love of his life – finally – and decides then and there he is going to marry her.
Unfortunately, Harriet Vane, the source of Lord Peter’s willingness to forgo the bachelor life for a house and family, is not in a position to accept.
Harriet Vane is in the prisoner’s dock of the court, charged with the murder of her previous lover.
If convicted, she will hang.
Instead, there is a hung jury and a second trial due to be opened in a month.
Lord Peter has only that short time to figure out how to save this young woman – and the only way he can do that is to produce the real culprit.
Fairly early on, we are given some indication of who the real culprit is.
But there is the question of motive – nothing fits.
There is also the question of how the murder was done.
From the title, we know it was poison, but how was the poison administered and when? More significantly, will the information they need come to light in time to save Harriet Vane?
Once again, Dorothy Sayers spins out a great mystery and some fascinating and clever sleuthwork on the part of Lord Peter and his friends and associates.
And there is more than one romance in the works during this brimfull novel.
It took all my willpower not to jump straight into #7 of this series (The Five Red Herrings) to find out what happens next!
I was reading this, feeling a whole lotta deja vu and just wondering which came first, Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey series or PG Wodehouse's Wooster/Jeeves series, when out of the blue one of Sayers' characters namedrops Jeeves!
For me and the sort of reading I enjoy, this hit the spot! It was like reading a murder mystery penned by Wodehouse.
And if you're been reading my reviews, you know he's one of my favorite authors.
There's something very Woosterlike about the foppish Wimsey.
The style, language and flippancy of '20s/'30s England mirror Wodehouse almost to a tee.
The major difference is in the slightly more serious tone.
This is about a murder trial, after all.
It's not the most devilishly clever of murder mysteries, but it's good reading and I will definitely pick up another in the Wimsey series!
Rating Note: This was a strong 3.
I'll give it 4 stars for sheer enjoyment over any sense of writing quality.
introducing harriet vane! she's a loveable heroine and lord peter wimsey practically becomes a walking boner as soon as she arrives on the scene.
dorothy sayers is one of the most elegant of writers and her superdetective peter wimsey is one of literature's most elegant creations.
he's a semitragic war hero, he's brave & strong & fast & loyal, he's kind to service staff, he's a defender of the innocent.
and all his heroic attributes would grow quickly obnoxious except that sayers places them in the persona of an effete, often snobby, often condescending dandy, a straight oscar wilde who can kick your ass if you get too rude.
this kind of character has reappeared in many places over time, but this is my favorite incarnation of the type.
I think this may be the Sayers I read in my younger years & didn't much care for.
I can appreciate Sayers' ability more now.
I did enjoy this title very much, but not quite a perfect read for me.
There was quite a bit of filler & not many suspects.
But the murder method was ingenious & this is enough to make this title a most satisfying read.
Good stuff! You would think that having read Strong Poison once, listened to the Ian Carmichael audiobook, and watched the Edward Petherbridge tv adaptation twice, I wouldn't be still at the point of giggling every few pages or staying up all night to finish it.
You'd definitely be wrong.
It's so good coming back to these characters and learning more about them, and having the fondness about them, and not having my mind occupied with trying to figure out the mystery.
Miss Murchison! Miss Climpson! Bunter! Parker! The whole Victorian asking of intentions bit!
I think one of my favourite moments, oddly, was the moment in which Peter is thinking crossly about suicides and how they should leave a note, just to avoid all the mess.
And he thinks about how he should do it, not in terms of "if", but in terms of "when".
Such a chillingly telling moment, and dropped in at the end of a chapter, and never returned tohow typical of Peter's character, for something so serious to be only glanced across.
And it's one of those moments that you see Peter very clearly as more than a silly ass, instead of just having to take that on faith.
I don't know if I'm explaining it very welland this is an extraordinary amount of my review to devote to what was really a tiny detailbut the moment really caught my attention.
Still toecurlingly squee worthy, even on a fifth go at the plot.
She is in court, accused of murdering her exlover.
Lord Wimsey is enamored by her stoic character, her strong morals and lovely voice.
He doesn't think she murdered the scoundrel either and if she did is to be congratulated for removing this wart from the face of humanity.
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