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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unnatural Death
This is the third Lord Peter Wimsey novel. Wimsey and Charles Parker are interrupted, while in a teashop, by a doctor who overhears them talking about crime. He relates a tale of how he was treating an elderly lady for cancer, whose niece insisted was much nearer than death than he felt she was. When she died suddenly, without leaving a will, the doctor insisted on an...
Published 18 months ago by S Riaz

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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic detective fiction with the brilliant Peter Wimsey
While this isn't my favourite D.L Sayers, it's a wonderful story, about a young woman suspected of murdering her rich aunt and a servant who signed the aunt's will...but the post mortem doesn't show anything. Only Lord Peter Wimsey can solve the case, with the help of Chief Inspector Parker and Miss Climpson.
Published on 4 Oct. 2000


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unnatural Death, 31 Dec. 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This is the third Lord Peter Wimsey novel. Wimsey and Charles Parker are interrupted, while in a teashop, by a doctor who overhears them talking about crime. He relates a tale of how he was treating an elderly lady for cancer, whose niece insisted was much nearer than death than he felt she was. When she died suddenly, without leaving a will, the doctor insisted on an autopsy, leading to bad feeling with both the niece, Miss Whittaker, and the local community. Indeed, his actions led to him having to leave the area and begin work elsewhere. Of course, Lord Peter is immediately intrigued - how many people do 'get away with murder'? However, Parker is not conviced there is a case to answer. Presumably, as an officer of the law he had enough real work to be getting on with, but Wimsey is determined to investigate.

In this entertaining novel, Lord Peter uses the indefatigable Miss Climpson as his "ears and tongue and especially nose." A spinsterish lady, much in the style of a slightly younger Miss Marple, she is an enquiry agent for Lord Peter; settling herself into a boarding house near where the elderly lady died and sending letters (which you feel the author had great fun writing) reporting on the people and places involved. Before long there is a further murder and even Parker is convinced that something is amiss. Did Miss Whittaker hurry her aunt along to make sure she inherited? Who is the mysterious Mrs Forrest? Is Lord Peter Wimsey himself going to become a victim?

This is a real puzzle of a mystery, with endless clues and suspects and sometimes you do feel a little bogged down in information. However, the real fun and sense of righting a wrong does shine through and you happily embark on the journey with Lord Peter, Parker, Miss Climpson and, of course, Bunter. Very enjoyable, brilliantly plotted (if a little confusingly at times) and, of course, much of the pleasure is in the character of Lord Peter Wimsey himself. If you enjoy Golden Age detective fiction then you will love this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unnatural Death - Lord Peter asks not only `whodunnit', and `howdunnit', but was it even dun at all?, 23 July 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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First published in 1927, this is the third of Drothy L Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. This review is for the 1975 full cast radio dramatisation starring Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter.

In this story a chance encounter with a Doctor sets Lord Peter off on a puzzling mystery. The Doctor lost his standing in his local community and subsequently had to leave his practice after he voiced his concerns over the death of an elderly patient. No-one else believed that it was suspicious, except Lord Peter. What follows is an interesting set up from Sayers, where Wimsey not only has to find the murderer and show how the crime was committed, but he also has to prove that a crime has indeed been committed. At his side is the ever reliable Inspector Parker and the infallible Bunter, and this story introduces a new ally in the form of Mrs. Climpson. Sayers skilfully builds up the mystery and peels away the layers to reveal the truth, in a fascinating tale that hinges on a dry piece of legislation, but told in an exciting fashion.

All the cast are on form here, Ian Carmichael really IS Lord Peter, Peter Jones strikes just the right note as Bunter, full of contrition as he makes a rare mistake. Gabriel Woolf is a joy as Parker. The three leads clearly got on very well in the studio, and there is a real feeling of warmth from them.

Originally broadcast as seven half hour episodes, all seven are here complete with theme music and credits at the end of each episode. They are split across three discs in a double size jewel case. Liner notes are limited to a chapter list and a brief note about Sayers' career. Sound quality is excellent - for a series nearly 40 years old is sounds really clear. 5 star in all for another enthralling outing for Wimsey and Co.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Blast from the Past, 18 July 2011
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This was a great read: a clever plot, a story that moves on at a good pace and a satisfying resolution at the end.

The language in parts seems quite strange and inevitably very dated, but this does not detract from the quality of the writing overall, which is intelligent and peppered with all sorts of literary references that fit in very naturally. Reading this has inspired me to re-read more Dorothy L Sayers and I would certainly recommend it to all fans of the classic detective novel.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British Murder Mystery - enough said..., 5 Nov. 2004
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Dorothy Sayers, a.k.a. Dorothy Leigh Sayers Fleming, one of the first women to ever be granted a degree from Oxford University, created one of the leading figures in, and indeed in so doing helped to create the genre of, the British mystery novels. Lord Peter Wimsey, an elegant, refined London-based aristocrat with a taste for books and a penchant for the piano, is again here the leading figure, in 'Unnatural Death', also published as 'The Dawson Pedigree'.
Wimsey is an old Etonian, Balliol Oxford (of course), served with distinction in His Majesty's forces during the War (this book having been written in 1927, I shall leave it to your good services to deduce which War), who resides both town and country somewhat fashionably, and takes great pride in the ancient family history (by the time one gets to be the fifteenth Duke of anything, the family can be easily considered ancient). Wimsey has a vocation as criminologist, not out of necessity, surely, and not by training either (for such training did not formally exist, but, as an Oxford Arts man, he was trained for most anything intellectual, or at least, that is what an Oxford Arts man would tell you). An interesting addition to the beginning of the book is a short biographical sketch of the fictional Wimsey by his equally-fictional uncle.
All of this, of course, is but preamble to the latest mystery to come calling upon Lord Wimsey. There are the requisite features: a dead woman, Agatha Dawson, wealthy and having left a will that might not be a will, but rather a sham (a delirious woman whose nurse insists that there was no possible way of having made a will during the last month, yet oddly there is a document, complete with a witness who claims that dear old Agatha Dawson wanted nothing to do with the signing -- ah, the plot thickens here).
Of course, to most of the world, Wimsey is, well, following a whimsey of his own. The woman was after all elderly and in poor health; surely his investigations are misplaced. The doctor (not the one who tended Miss Dawson's death, to be sure, but an earlier doctor, suspicious of Dawson's sole heir, her niece) was accused of having blackened the name of Miss Whittaker, the niece, unnecessarily, particularly as no evidence of mischief had been uncovered. Wimsey with the assistance of Inspector Parker are able to rectify the situation vis-a-vis the doctor, but there is still the mystery.
Then, more death. This time the maid. To lose one woman may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two women... (well, you can fill in the rest yourself).
Of course I won't spoil it for you; perhaps my tag-team reviewers will do that for you, but I sincerely hope not. Suffice it to say, Wimsey proves himself a consummate actor in which the truth comes out (in London, and in style!).
One of the glories of Sayers work is the intricacies of her plots. She tends to get a huge number of people involved (the number of people who seemed to have trouped through the ill woman's bedchamber is in itself surprising, given the era) each with subplots and agenda that nonetheless get neatly resolved in the end. Sayers' development of character (even of the already dead ones!) is done with style and subtlety; while Wimsey is developed over several novels, one doesn't feel him a stranger by reading this one alone. The other characters fit their parts admirably (had Sayers not been a writer, she may well have made a good career as a casting director in Hollywood), in physical and personality attributes.
Her descriptions of the milieu, both in town (London) and in the country (the village and surroundings, in this case, of Hampshire, are interesting reading. Sayers is very much the cosmopolitan, and somewhat condescending toward the countryfolk. However, that is not a heavy element, and perhaps can be written off to her attempt to make Wimsey even more the worldly character he turns out to be over the course of her novels.
In all, an excellent read, a great diversion, and well worth musing over while sipping tea on a Regency-style sofa in one's dressing gown.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen while you work, 25 July 2012
By 
R. Irish "darcy fan" (crawley) - See all my reviews
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This listening cd is a great buy for those who love listening while doing housework, cooking, walking the dog or just listening. It has a full cast including the the late fantastic Ian Carmicheal. It is atmospheric of the period, very enjoyable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really good, 9 May 2014
By 
Aletheuon (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This, the third of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels, concerns the murder of a dying person which is passed off as a natural death. A doctor tells Wimsey and his friend Parker about one of his patients, Miss Agatha Dawson, dying of terminal cancer, who actually died surprisingly quickly after the diagnosis. Questioning the cause of death got the doctor into trouble. Wimsey is interested enough to investigate, with the help of the redoubtable Miss Climpson, who has aided his investigations before.
Wimsey finds out that the patient's great-niece, Mary Whittaker, was her carer and her heir, but that there was no actual will and an imminent change in the law could mean her money going to the state. The niece needed her aunt to die before the change in the law took effect. The investigation provokes the great-niece to take action.
Wiimsey does solve the mystery, but no-one is particularly grateful and it seems that his interference has provokes further evil to take place. There are several deaths and attempted murders. Wimsey wonders - and the book invites us to consider - whether the investigation was worth it.
The story deals in some pretty modern-seeming themes for a book written in the 1920s, and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that life and prejudice go in circles. Although it is implied and not actually stated in the book, Miss Dawson and her `friend' Miss Findlater are lifetime lesbian partners, something which is simply accepted by all and is never shown as unacceptable. In fact, everyone seems to regard the two elderly ladies with great respect and admiration. Miss Climpson, however, finds the great-niece's similar traits an indication of her bad character.
Dorothy L Sayers is very good at female characters and depicting their lives in the earlier part of the twentieth century. The mystery story, too, is excellent - though the murder method, though ingenious, would (apparently) never work. When she discovered this, Dorothy Sayers swore never to write an under-researched book again.
Another theme of the book is that of race, and here Miss Sayers is much more a child of her time. While investigating the family of Agatha Dawson, looking for other heirs, Wimsey finds the Reverend Hallelujah Dawson, the offspring of illegitimate son of Agatha's uncle and a Trinidadian woman. Miss Dawson had been helping him financially but Miss Whitaker refused to do so when she inherited. I don't think Dorothy Sayers meant to be racist; she just describes Rev Dawson as a strange and alien character in the England of her time. Today, this very emphasis on his racial characteristics seems tasteless and reflects the both tacit and the overt racism of the time.
In this third book in the series, Dorothy Sayers is getting into her stride and Wimsey's character is developing nicely. He's witty and erudite, intelligent and resourceful, and he has all kinds of unexpected talents. He's a wow with women and the fact that Mary Whittaker does not fancy him is depicted as something very surprising. She must be a lesbian! I find all this - if a bit ridiculous - great fun and I quite fancy Peter myself. Or I did when I first read the book, about fifty years ago! The book's interest does not flag and there's no doubt that Dorothy L Sayers was a very good writer indeed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic trip down memory lane, 21 May 2012
By 
Brian R. Martin (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This a classic `British style' mystery featuring Dorothy Sayers' hero Lord Peter Wimsey, a well-educated rich toff, who, relieved of the necessity of working for a living, spends much of his time investigating interesting criminal cases with the assistance of his long-suffering friend, Inspector Parker of Scotland Yard. This one starts when the pair has a chance meeting in a restaurant with a young doctor. He tells them a story of how he was forced to give up his rural GP's practice because he insisted on investigating the death of an elderly female patient of his, who although terminally ill, was not expected to die so suddenly. Wimsey is intrigued by some details of the story, including the actions of the woman's niece, who inherits her aunt's money in the absence of a Will. Despite the absence of any direct evidence that the death was suspicious, Wimsey decides to investigate further. Having quickly established the bare facts of the circumstances, he quickly concludes that the elderly patient was indeed murdered and believes he knows who was the murderer. He sets out to prove his theories.

This is all too much for Parker, who repeatedly reminds Wimsey that the post mortem found no evidence of foul play. Undeterred, Wimsey presses on and installs another of his assistants, a Miss Marples-like spinster called Miss Climpson, in the village where events took place, to secretly gather information about the many characters involved. Eventually Parker is forced to take the possibility of murder seriously when a former maid at the house is killed and other suspicious evidence emerges involving a recent change in the law concerning intestacy, the circumstances why a Will had not been made, and the possible existence of other beneficiaries. A number of false trails are pursed, involving visits to various parts of Sothern England, and another murder occurs before the final mystery is solved and Wimsey's suspicions are vindicated.

Reading this book was an enjoyable trip down memory lane. There are many stock characters, such as Miss Climpson, the local parson, a dim-witted Chief Constable, and some of the rural inhabitants of the village, but they all seem to fit into the story rather well. Even their prejudices, including casual racism, although jarring to modern ears, seems natural for the times. The plot is sufficiently complicated to keep the reader's attention and the final solution, although largely predictable, has one feature that I had not anticipated until the last few pages. Overall, an enjoyable period piece and a good contrast to modern thrillers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery with style!, 14 Mar. 2006
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Dorothy Sayers, a.k.a. Dorothy Leigh Sayers Fleming, one of the first women to ever be granted a degree from Oxford University, created one of the leading figures in, and indeed in so doing helped to create the genre of, the British mystery novels. Lord Peter Wimsey, an elegant, refined London-based aristocrat with a taste for books and a penchant for the piano, is again here the leading figure, in Unnatural Death, also published as The Dawson Pedigree.
Wimsey is an old Etonian, Balliol Oxford (of course), served with distinction in His Majesty's forces during the War (this book having been written in 1927, I shall leave it to your good services to deduce which War), who resides both town and country somewhat fashionably, and takes great pride in the ancient family history (by the time one gets to be the fifteenth Duke of anything, the family can be easily considered ancient). Wimsey has a vocation as criminologist, not out of necessity, surely, and not by training either (for such training did not formally exist, but, as an Oxford Arts man, he was trained for most anything intellectual, or at least, that is what an Oxford Arts man would tell you). An interesting addition to the beginning of the book is a short biographical sketch of the fictional Wimsey by his equally-fictional uncle.
All of this, of course, is but preamble to the latest mystery to come calling upon Lord Wimsey. There are the requisite features: a dead woman, Agatha Dawson, wealthy and having left a will that might not be a will, but rather a sham (a delirious woman whose nurse insists that there was no possible way of having made a will during the last month, yet oddly there is a document, complete with a witness who claims that dear old Agatha Dawson wanted nothing to do with the signing -- ah, the plot thickens here).
Of course, to most of the world, Wimsey is, well, following a whimsey of his own. The woman was after all elderly and in poor health; surely his investigations are misplaced. The doctor (not the one who tended Miss Dawson's death, to be sure, but an earlier doctor, suspicious of Dawson's sole heir, her niece) was accused of having blackened the name of Miss Whittaker, the niece, unnecessarily, particularly as no evidence of mischief had been uncovered. Wimsey with the assistance of Inspector Parker are able to rectify the situation vis-a-vis the doctor, but there is still the mystery.
Then, more death. This time the maid. To lose one woman may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two women... (well, you can fill in the rest yourself).
Of course I won't spoil it for you; perhaps my tag-team reviewers will do that for you, but I sincerely hope not. Suffice it to say, Wimsey proves himself a consummate actor in which the truth comes out (in London, and in style!).
One of the glories of Sayers work is the intricacies of her plots. She tends to get a huge number of people involved (the number of people who seemed to have trouped through the ill woman's bedchamber is in itself surprising, given the era) each with subplots and agenda that nonetheless get neatly resolved in the end. Sayers' development of character (even of the already dead ones!) is done with style and subtlety; while Wimsey is developed over several novels, one doesn't feel him a stranger by reading this one alone. The other characters fit their parts admirably (had Sayers not been a writer, she may well have made a good career as a casting director in Hollywood), in physical and personality attributes.
Her descriptions of the milieu, both in town (London) and in the country (the village and surroundings, in this case, of Hampshire, are interesting reading. Sayers is very much the cosmopolitan, and somewhat condescending toward the countryfolk. However, that is not a heavy element, and perhaps can be written off to her attempt to make Wimsey even more the worldly character he turns out to be over the course of her novels.
In all, an excellent read, a great diversion, and well worth musing over while sipping tea on a Regency-style sofa in one's dressing gown.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery with style, 17 Jan. 2006
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Unnatural Death (Hardcover)
Dorothy Sayers, a.k.a. Dorothy Leigh Sayers Fleming, one of the first women to ever be granted a degree from Oxford University, created one of the leading figures in, and indeed in so doing helped to create the genre of, the British mystery novels. Lord Peter Wimsey, an elegant, refined London-based aristocrat with a taste for books and a penchant for the piano, is again here the leading figure, in Unnatural Death, also published as The Dawson Pedigree.
Wimsey is an old Etonian, Balliol Oxford (of course), served with distinction in His Majesty's forces during the War (this book having been written in 1927, I shall leave it to your good services to deduce which War), who resides both town and country somewhat fashionably, and takes great pride in the ancient family history (by the time one gets to be the fifteenth Duke of anything, the family can be easily considered ancient). Wimsey has a vocation as criminologist, not out of necessity, surely, and not by training either (for such training did not formally exist, but, as an Oxford Arts man, he was trained for most anything intellectual, or at least, that is what an Oxford Arts man would tell you). An interesting addition to the beginning of the book is a short biographical sketch of the fictional Wimsey by his equally-fictional uncle.
All of this, of course, is but preamble to the latest mystery to come calling upon Lord Wimsey. There are the requisite features: a dead woman, Agatha Dawson, wealthy and having left a will that might not be a will, but rather a sham (a delirious woman whose nurse insists that there was no possible way of having made a will during the last month, yet oddly there is a document, complete with a witness who claims that dear old Agatha Dawson wanted nothing to do with the signing -- ah, the plot thickens here).
Of course, to most of the world, Wimsey is, well, following a whimsey of his own. The woman was after all elderly and in poor health; surely his investigations are misplaced. The doctor (not the one who tended Miss Dawson's death, to be sure, but an earlier doctor, suspicious of Dawson's sole heir, her niece) was accused of having blackened the name of Miss Whittaker, the niece, unnecessarily, particularly as no evidence of mischief had been uncovered. Wimsey with the assistance of Inspector Parker are able to rectify the situation vis-a-vis the doctor, but there is still the mystery.
Then, more death. This time the maid. To lose one woman may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two women... (well, you can fill in the rest yourself).
Of course I won't spoil it for you; perhaps others will do that for you, but I sincerely hope not. Suffice it to say, Wimsey proves himself a consummate actor in which the truth comes out (in London, and in style!).
One of the glories of Sayers work is the intricacies of her plots. She tends to get a huge number of people involved (the number of people who seemed to have trouped through the ill woman's bedchamber is in itself surprising, given the era) each with subplots and agenda that nonetheless get neatly resolved in the end. Sayers' development of character (even of the already dead ones!) is done with style and subtlety; while Wimsey is developed over several novels, one doesn't feel him a stranger by reading this one alone. The other characters fit their parts admirably (had Sayers not been a writer, she may well have made a good career as a casting director in Hollywood), in physical and personality attributes.
Her descriptions of the milieu, both in town (London) and in the country (the village and surroundings, in this case, of Hampshire, are interesting reading. Sayers is very much the cosmopolitan, and somewhat condescending toward the countryfolk. However, that is not a heavy element, and perhaps can be written off to her attempt to make Wimsey even more the worldly character he turns out to be over the course of her novels.
In all, an excellent read, a great diversion, and well worth musing over while sipping tea on a Regency-style sofa in one's dressing gown.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery with style!, 22 Nov. 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Dorothy Sayers, a.k.a. Dorothy Leigh Sayers Fleming, one of the first women to ever be granted a degree from Oxford University, created one of the leading figures in, and indeed in so doing helped to create the genre of, the British mystery novels. Lord Peter Wimsey, an elegant, refined London-based aristocrat with a taste for books and a penchant for the piano, is again here the leading figure, in Unnatural Death, also published as The Dawson Pedigree.
Wimsey is an old Etonian, Balliol Oxford (of course), served with distinction in His Majesty's forces during the War (this book having been written in 1927, I shall leave it to your good services to deduce which War), who resides both town and country somewhat fashionably, and takes great pride in the ancient family history (by the time one gets to be the fifteenth Duke of anything, the family can be easily considered ancient). Wimsey has a vocation as criminologist, not out of necessity, surely, and not by training either (for such training did not formally exist, but, as an Oxford Arts man, he was trained for most anything intellectual, or at least, that is what an Oxford Arts man would tell you). An interesting addition to the beginning of the book is a short biographical sketch of the fictional Wimsey by his equally-fictional uncle.
All of this, of course, is but preamble to the latest mystery to come calling upon Lord Wimsey. There are the requisite features: a dead woman, Agatha Dawson, wealthy and having left a will that might not be a will, but rather a sham (a delirious woman whose nurse insists that there was no possible way of having made a will during the last month, yet oddly there is a document, complete with a witness who claims that dear old Agatha Dawson wanted nothing to do with the signing -- ah, the plot thickens here).
Of course, to most of the world, Wimsey is, well, following a whimsey of his own. The woman was after all elderly and in poor health; surely his investigations are misplaced. The doctor (not the one who tended Miss Dawson's death, to be sure, but an earlier doctor, suspicious of Dawson's sole heir, her niece) was accused of having blackened the name of Miss Whittaker, the niece, unnecessarily, particularly as no evidence of mischief had been uncovered. Wimsey with the assistance of Inspector Parker are able to rectify the situation vis-a-vis the doctor, but there is still the mystery.
Then, more death. This time the maid. To lose one woman may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two women... (well, you can fill in the rest yourself).
Of course I won't spoil it for you; perhaps my tag-team reviewers will do that for you, but I sincerely hope not. Suffice it to say, Wimsey proves himself a consummate actor in which the truth comes out (in London, and in style!).
One of the glories of Sayers work is the intricacies of her plots. She tends to get a huge number of people involved (the number of people who seemed to have trouped through the ill woman's bedchamber is in itself surprising, given the era) each with subplots and agenda that nonetheless get neatly resolved in the end. Sayers' development of character (even of the already dead ones!) is done with style and subtlety; while Wimsey is developed over several novels, one doesn't feel him a stranger by reading this one alone. The other characters fit their parts admirably (had Sayers not been a writer, she may well have made a good career as a casting director in Hollywood), in physical and personality attributes.
Her descriptions of the milieu, both in town (London) and in the country (the village and surroundings, in this case, of Hampshire, are interesting reading. Sayers is very much the cosmopolitan, and somewhat condescending toward the countryfolk. However, that is not a heavy element, and perhaps can be written off to her attempt to make Wimsey even more the worldly character he turns out to be over the course of her novels.
In all, an excellent read, a great diversion, and well worth musing over while sipping tea on a Regency-style sofa in one's dressing gown.
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Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries)
Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries) by Dorothy L. Sayers (Paperback - 7 Jan. 2014)
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