Originally published in 1928, this was the fourth novel to feature Dorothy L Sayers' aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey. This review is for the BBC radio adaptation, first broadcast in six episodes in 1975 and starring Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter.
This is a fine drama that revolves around a knotty little question. When an old and distinguished member of the Bellona club is found dead in his chair it becomes a matter of great importance to establish when he died, for his estranged sister died on the same day and if he predeceased her by even a minute then a major inheritance will travel down an entirely different route. Lord Peter bust bring all of his forensic skill to bear and soon he starts to wonder if the old boy's death was as natural as everyone thought.
The book was very much of its time, and dealt in large part with the fall out from the great war, which finished a decade earlier. The mood of the nation viz armistice day and the presence in society of young men still suffering from shellshock are important plot points. Though a decade earlier the war still cast a shadow over the times and over this tale.
Ian Carmichael and co do an excellent job of bringing the tale to life. Carmichael in particular IS Lord Peter, giving the character a casual lighthearted wit but able to see clearly and with a steely determination when called for. This tale has a particularly powerful ending, Carmichael really gives it weight.
5 stars for this excellent radio drama from the BBC. It still stands up well today, nearly 40 years after its first broadcast, and is a joy to listen to. I loved every minute of it, 5 stars.