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VINE VOICEon 9 June 2005
Personally I have always been an Agatha the Christie fan. My first encounter with Dorothy L. Sayers was the Mobile Mystery Theater series showing on PBS.
Naturally the TV media cannot fill in all the details that you would pick up from reading the book. So I read the book. This added more depth to the story, but now I appreciate Dorothy L. Sayers more than Agatha Christie. But Dorothy not only fleshes her characters out better but her side trips into philosophy and psychology make the story that much more interesting. And just when you say what is the relevance to this conversation it is wrapped up in the final solution.
We are in luck as they still make the unabridged tape of "Strong Poison" The reader Is Ian Carmichael the first TV Lord Peter Wimsey. It makes a good compliment to the book.
This is the first of a fourth book series. The story is complete and can be used as a stand-alone story.
The notorious Harriet Vane is on trial for poisoning her previous live in lover. Naturally Lord Peter Wimsey falling in love with her, is determined that she is innocent and will prove this. To save her repartition he must fined the real culprit (if there is one), because if Harriet gets off on a technicality, she will always be under suspicion.
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Published in 1930, this is the sixth book to feature Lord Peter Wimsey and the first to feature Harriet Vane. When we are introduced to Harriet, she is a prisoner in the dock; on trial for killing her lover, Philip Boyes. Lord Peter is convinced of her innocence and instantly smitten. However, the case against her looks pretty convincing at first glance. Miss Vane had left Mr Boyes, after an attempt at ‘free love’ had fallen apart. A writer of detective fiction, Harriet had been investigating death by arsenic poisoning and had purchased arsenic under false names. When Philip Boyes is poisoned, it looks as though Harriet is the obvious person to accuse.

In a race against time, Lord Peter is determined to find the real murderer and so we set off on an exciting adventure, including false wills, mediums, notorious great-aunts and the glorious Miss Climpson who, against her moral scruples, is sent by Lord Peter to help solve the crime.

This is a delightful mystery, with wonderful characters, lots of humour, a great plot and a real sense of danger – as Lord Peter has to solve the crime and rescue Harriet. There is also a lot of romance in the air, with Parker still mooning over Peter’s sister, Mary and Freddy Arbuthnot about to tie the knot with Rachel Levy (who was mentioned in the first ever Wimsey novel, “Whose Body?”). This is one of the most enjoyable in the series which I have read so far and I recommend the entire, classic, Golden Age series highly.
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I consider myself to be pretty well read but have to confess this was my first Dorothy L. Sayers book! Of course, I knew Lord Peter Wimsey from TV and radio adaptations so I had a fair idea of what to expect.

Strong Poison is the novel in which crime writer Harriet Vane is introduced. As the book opens she is on trial for her life for poisoning her ex-lover. But Peter Wimsey (who attends the trial out of professional interest) is soon in love with her and begging her to marry him. It is surprisingly “modern” in its attitude to extra-marital relationships considering it was written in 1930. Harriet is a strong, unconventional, independent woman who speaks her mind and fears no-one – a perfect foil for Peter. I can imagine the character of Peter Wimsey could eventually irritate but I found him (so far!) entertaining and tolerable. He is rich, privileged, urbane and well educated – but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

Wimsey is ably assisted in his sleuthing by Bunter (his batman) and Miss Climpson who runs The Cattery. This is a sort of employment agency that sends women into employment positions where they can gain information for Wimsey. Miss Murchison does an amazingly efficient and effective job and deserves to be a heroine in her own novel!

I thoroughly enjoyed Strong Poison and will certainly look out for others by the same author – preferably those featuring Harriet Vane! I did guess the outcome of the crime and how it had been committed but I am sure that I saw this on TV years ago.
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on 30 October 2012
Strong Poison is the fifth of Dorothy L. Sayers' full-length murder-mystery novels featuring aristocratic amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey. This is the novel in which he meets the love of his life, Harriet Vane, under adverse circumstances - she is being tried for the murder of her lover.

Lord Peter is convinced that Harriet is innocent, but unfortunately he is the only person (other than Harriet herself) to think so; indeed, the evidence is overwhelming. But Lord Peter is determined to prove Harriet innocent, and to woo her at the same time.

Both of this objectives turn out to be rather difficult; the real murderer is diabolically clever, and Harriet herself has been hurt by her appalling lover (a young man whom I consider to be very much better off dead) and by her ordeal. Lord Peter's proposal falls sadly flat: it's only one of many she's had since she was arrested, since notoriety is attractive to some. Her opinion of men, therefore, would require deep-shaft mining equipment to be lower, and her opinion of herself is hardly better.

I've read this book many times; it's one of my favourites in the series. Not only is Sayers' plotting beautifully, devilishly, clever, but she is an excellent writer of character. Lord Peter comes across as rather dramatic and affected, but as you get to know him, you realise it's mostly a pose to hide his real feelings from the world. After all, if the world is going to laugh at him, he is damn well going to be in control of what they laugh at, and when.

Harriet, on the other hand, is a clever, middle-class young woman who got involved with a young man who tricked her into becoming his lover - in a society where sex before marriage was still shocking - by declaring that he, an avant garde novelist, didn't believe in marriage. Now she's agreed, and damned herself into the eyes of society thereby, he is ready to reward her sacrifice with marriage. She sees right through his hypocrisy and dumps him, thus beginning the chain of events that ends with her in the dock.

The pair of them are real, complex people. They've both been hurt in the past; they're both ferociously intelligent (Sayers herself was one of the first female Oxford graduates, and she does the reader the courtesy of assuming they are just as intelligent as she and her characters are) and they're both proud, although of different things. They are clearly drawn to each other, but Harriet can't bring herself to trust anyone, certainly not someone to whom she owes a debt of gratitude. Right from the beginning, though, you know that they are meant for each other - it's a union of minds, not a union of bodies. It's a refreshing change from so many of today's novels where lust takes the place of love, and authors write characters who are physically attracted to each other but seem to pay no attention to each other's personalities.

The Lord Peter Wimsey books are classics of detective fiction; Strong Poison was first published in 1930 and is still in print. Unlike many classics, Lord Peter has stood the test of time. Yes, in some ways he is dated - the way he speaks, the way he dresses, his whole world, is gone. But his humanity, the relationships he has with his beloved (eccentric) mother the Dowager Duchess, his huntin', shootin' and fishin' older brother the Duke of Denver and the appalling Helen, the Duchess; his valet - not only manservant but also right-hand-man and, in a way, trusted friend - these are still very relevant.

The Lord Peter Wimsey books are some of my favourites; I've read all of them over and over. If you like a well-written story with excellent characterisation and some fiendish plotting, then you will enjoy these books too.
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VINE VOICEon 1 August 2013
Personally I have always been an Agatha the Christie fan. My first encounter with Dorothy L. Sayers was the Mobile Mystery Theater series showing on PBS.

Naturally the TV media cannot fill in all the details that you would pick up from reading the book. So I read the book. This added more depth to the story, but now I appreciate Dorothy L. Sayers more than Agatha Christie. But Dorothy not only fleshes her characters out better but her side trips into philosophy and psychology make the story that much more interesting. And just when you say, "what is the relevance to this conversation?" it is wrapped up in the final solution.

This is the first of a fourth book series. The story is complete and can be used as a stand-alone story.

The notorious Harriet Vane is on trial for poisoning her previous live in lover. Naturally Lord Peter Wimsey falling in love with her, is determined that she is innocent and will prove this. To save her repartition he must fined the real culprit (if there is one), because if Harriet gets off on a technicality, she will always be under suspicion.

have his Carcase
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2003
"Strong Poison" is a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, the first of four that feature his relationship with Harriet Vane, so if you are new to Sayers, this is a good one with which to start. Sayers was one of the authors of mystery's "Golden Age", following the pioneers - Poe, Wilkie Collins and Conan Doyle - and preceding the hardboiled school of Hammett and Chandler. She was thus a contemporary of Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen.
Her style is perhaps the most literary and polished of any mystery writer. (For further evidence of her skills, read her superb translation of "The Song of Roland"). She handles dialogue and human interaction extremely well and convincingly portrays a wide range of character types. Also notable is the occasional flash of ironic, rather dark, humour. I have to say however, that her penchant for bizarre names can be rather off-putting. We meet two jounalists called Salcombe Hardy and Waffles Newton, a lawyer called Sir Impey Biggs and an actress called - would you believe? - Cremorna Garden.
The plot is not as strong as the poison; it is too linear, with no twists and turns, although the central idea is quite good. It is more interesting as a literary portrait of 1930 English society than as a crime puzzle. But a good read, nonetheless.
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on 30 May 2015
This is a terrific book. It is very well plotted and the methods of investigation are clever and intriguing. Although Harriet doesn't play a huge part in the book - being in gaol awaiting a retrial - she is well drawn. There are very funny sketches of artists' lives and more of Miss Climpson's energetic correspondence. I had seen the terrific tv adaptation with Edward Petheridge and Harriet Walter and my enjoyment of the book was not in the slightest bit spoiled by knowing who-done-it, because the book is so clever and witty. However, underlying it all is Harriet's resignation to her fate and Wimsey's desperation that unless he can show Harriet's innocence it may be her last month before hanging. Time ticks on and hope grows more distant.
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on 27 November 2013
I remember well the many funny Ian Carmichael
British movies. One reviewer of this book said he
was excellent reader but didn't do womens voices too
well. He is not a good reader. After the 2nd disc,
I quit and took it back. He attempts to be so cute,
such a character, that i acturally could not understand much of what he was saying. The summing up by the judge - the typical British character - was so
exaggerated, I couldn't make it all out. I had to go
on to another book.
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on 12 May 2015
I started from the beginning with the Lord Peter Wimsey books and this is definitely the best to date.

This is the first appearance of Harriet Vane who although not featured a lot, when she is, she comes across as smart with a lovely sense of fun. No surprise that Peter falls for her. Great story with clever plotting and dialogue.

I'm looking forward to seeing how Harriet and Peter's relationship develop!
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VINE VOICEon 1 April 2010
Personally, I have always been an Agatha the Christie fan. My first encounter with Dorothy L. Sayers was the Mobile Mystery Theater series showing on PBS.

Naturally, the TV media cannot fill in all the details that you would pick up from reading the book. Therefore, I read the book. This added more depth to the story, but now I appreciate Dorothy L. Sayers more than I appreciate Agatha Christie. But Dorothy not only fleshes her characters out better but her side trips into philosophy and psychology make the story that much more interesting. In addition, just when you say, "what is the relevance to this conversation?" it is wrapped up in the final solution.

This is the first of a fourth book series. The story is complete and can be used as a stand-alone story.

The notorious Harriet Vane is on trial for poisoning her previous live in lover. Naturally, Lord Peter Wimsey falling in love with her is determined that she is innocent and will prove this. To save her repartition he must find the real culprit (if there is one), because if Harriet gets off on a technicality, she will always be under suspicion.

Ian Carmichael plays Wimsey in an earlier series
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