Strong Poison, by Dorothy L. Sayers

>> Sunday, February 01, 2004

I've just finished Strong Poison, by Dorothy L. Sayers, which, not counting the short stories, would be book # 5 in the Lord Peter Wimsey series.

Mystery novelist Harriet Vane knew all about poisons, and when her fiancé died in the manner prescribed in one of her books, a jury of her peers had a hangman's noose in mind. But Lord Peter Wimsey was determined to find her innocent--as determined as he was to make her his wife.
I was very much looking forward to get to this one, the book where the Peter - Harriet love story starts, and I was not disappointed. An A.

I just adored what there was of the love story, and was left wishing for more. So very few scenes, and all from Peter's POV, but so very effective! I loved reading how the always urbane and self-possessed Lord Peter fell like a schoolboy, and for such an interesting woman, too. No vapid débutantes for him, he goes and falls for a strong woman, one who makes a good living for herself, and who values herself enough that she objected her lover's having put her to the test, seeing if she'd live with him and offering marriage as a kind of prize because she did.

Though some readers might not like that long chunks of the action were spent away from Lord Peter, with Miss Climpson and her fellow Cattery employee, Miss Murchison, I greatly enjoyed spending more time with them, especially Miss Climpson. You've got to love a middle-aged spinster who freely admits that the conditions for women when she was young, in Victorian times, made them more "decorous" and "modest", but how "difficult" and "humiliating" for those who had to live through them! Very refreshing attitude.

The case itself was fascinating too, and very well-constructed. I guessed much of the solution, but not all, and this didn't ruin it for me at all.


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