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Not a Lord Peter Whimsy novel but excellent all the same
on 14 November 2006
Is this the only Sayers mystery novel not to showcase Lord Peter? I'm not sure but it marks a whole other direction that Sayers could have taken in her writing.
Made up of 'the documents in the case': primarily letters, reports and a couple of witness statements, there is no overall narrator who pulls the whole story together and yet the reader is intriguingly drawn into not just the murder but the lives, inner and outer, of the characters involved.
Very much of it's time, this gives an intriguing view of London in the 30s when artists were still Bohemian and therefore morally suspicious, when the whole-food/healthfood/natural food thing was just absurd and ridiculous, and when there was a huge intellectual ferment over quantum theory/chaos theory and what that means for relion and life. I'm making this sound incredibly intellectual and dull but trust me it isn't: these themes are woven very skillfully into the narrative, but this is fundamentally a story of the clash of people and the resulting murder.
The characters were well drawn, if stereotypical: the slightly mad spinster with an obsession with sex, the modern young novelist with his intellectual theories, the beautiful but dumb wife married to an engineer much older than her, the morally dubious but brilliant artist... and yet while we read the book we believe in these people.
If you want a slap-bang murder on page 1 with lots of blood and gore, then this probably isn't the book for you; but if you want a light, yet entertaining read, with an ingenious murder at the heart of it, then I recommend this.