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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Less frothy than some of the other Wimsey novels
As other reviewers have mentioned, what makes this novel stand out from the usual period crime fiction is the portrayal of between-the-wars London when Armistice Day is still a real reminder of what men endured, when survivors of the first world war still suffer from shell-shock and the after-effects of gassing and wounds, and when having a wife go out to work is a...
Published on 19 Nov. 2006 by Roman Clodia

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3.0 out of 5 stars Peculiar fourth book in the Wimsey series
When Peter Wimsey finds the elderly General Fentiman dead in front of the fire of the Bellona Club, it seems like an obvious case of natural causes, especially as the General was known to have a heart condition. But then the General's solicitor visits Wimsey with a problem: he needs to establish the General's time of death in order to determine who gets a very large...
Published 18 months ago by I Read, Therefore I Blog


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Less frothy than some of the other Wimsey novels, 19 Nov. 2006
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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As other reviewers have mentioned, what makes this novel stand out from the usual period crime fiction is the portrayal of between-the-wars London when Armistice Day is still a real reminder of what men endured, when survivors of the first world war still suffer from shell-shock and the after-effects of gassing and wounds, and when having a wife go out to work is a significant slur on a man's masculinity.

The actual murder itself is less satisfying than some of the other novels in this series, and the unveiling of the culprit is a bit of a deux ex machina ending, so in some ways this works best as a novel with an incidental crime rather than the other way round. A good read anyway, though with a significantly darker centre than some of the other Wimsey books.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, 6 Sept. 2002
By 
Sue Reeves (Burray, Orkney United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Not one of Peter Wimsey's best efforts but an interesting enough puzzle, well though out and satisfying to all fans of Dorothy L Sayers. However what makes this book fascinating for me is the deeply convincing contemporary portrait of upper and middle class post World War 1 Britain.
The Edwardian afternoon still lingers on for those too old to have fought and the Gentlemans club which forms the backdrop for much of this book remains a refuge from a rapidly changing world.
But for the "lucky" ones who return from the trenches their experiences haunt them. There are also the new economic realities of unemployment to be faced.
Dorothy L Sayer has brilliantly and effortlessly evoked the flavour of the period. As reader of detective fiction and a passionate history buff I enjoyed it enormously.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club: An unpleasant problem for Lord Peter, 22 Aug. 2013
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Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The unpleastantness at the Bellona Club, 4 Feb. 2012
I first read this book several years ago, borrowing it from the Library. I enjoy Dorothy Sayers' writing very much even though there are some aspects of her books which indicate a consciouness of class which is very different from that prevailing today: whereby a character will act in a way required by his/her class and not necessarily the way the same character would act if being written about today. Also some of her books indicate that there was a degree of racial discrimination amongst the "upper classes" which is quite disconcerting now.

However, despite the above, suffice to say, I enjoyed this book and the other Lord Peter Wimsey books I've re-read recently, just as much as I did several years ago. I'm very pleased I bought the book "The Unpleasantness at The Bellona Club".
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5.0 out of 5 stars The aftermath of world war 1, 12 May 2014
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Aletheuon (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
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The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, published in 1928, is the fourth novel featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.
General Fentiman and Lady Dormer are an elderly brother and sister, but haven't spoken for years. On her deathbed, she sends for him and they are reconciled. If she dies first, he will inherit her fortune, which his grandsons desperately need. But if he dies first, her money goes to Ann Dorland, a distant relative who lives with her.
Lady Dormer dies at 10:37 next morning, 11th November. It is Armistice Day. The General is found dead at his club that afternoon so, of course, it is vital to establish whether he or his sister died first. Lady Dormer's estate would be plenty for all three heirs but Ann Dorland will not share. Wimsey is asked to help solve the puzzle....
There is a sombre tone to this book, set in the aftermath of World War I. The book is full of references to the damage it has done. Even Lord Peter's usual jokey, deliberately foolish and exhibitionist behaviour is much more subdued than in other novels. As ever, we are treated to much more than a whodunnit. Parker, in particular, is illuminated to us in greater depth than ever before. The writing talent that culminated in the brilliant `Gaudy Night' is clearly developing. The story is very well written, tightly plotted and has a few surprises but, for me, much of the real interest also lies in the picture of an era now dead.
I love the portrayal of this bygone era and culture, one struggling to deal with the terrible suffering during and following the Great War and the social change and instability of the post-war era. Sayers writes beautifully about the very posh and privileged and (as a Welsh person) I am fascinated by the Englishness of it all. A particular kind of lifestyle was now under threat, it was becoming more difficult to pay butlers and maids and there is something sad about all this social change, however unfair such privileges may be. Women are moving forward to find jobs and control their own lives (though at a cost to male pride) but in part this freedom stems from the tragic fact that so many women could never marry because the war's death toll had deprived them of potential husbands. These single women had to work but were not given much respect or value. Lack of a man to being them sexual fulfilment was thought to make them strange, even potentially mad. This was a time when many people simply had to endure and this stoic and sad endurance is very much a part of this book.
This is not Sayer's best novel, but she is still a brilliant writer and there is plenty to savour and think about in this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Peculiar fourth book in the Wimsey series, 18 Dec. 2013
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When Peter Wimsey finds the elderly General Fentiman dead in front of the fire of the Bellona Club, it seems like an obvious case of natural causes, especially as the General was known to have a heart condition. But then the General's solicitor visits Wimsey with a problem: he needs to establish the General's time of death in order to determine who gets a very large inheritance. Although one of the potential heirs is a friend of his, Wimsey agrees to take the case only to find himself caught in a sinister plot where everyone seems to by lying ...

Dorothy L. Sayers fourth Wimsey mystery is a peculiar affair. The way the central mystery grows out of the inheritance dilemma is skilfully done but the resolution contains one twist too many and the ending seemed to me to be totally out of keeping for Wimsey's character especially when compared with the ending of BUSMAN'S HONEYMOON. However I enjoyed the depiction of shell shock and the strain it places on George Fentiman's relationship with his wife.

This is a pre-Harriett Vane book but it's made up for with a good helping of Bunter and his photographic skills. One of the things I really love about Sayers books is her approach to dialogue and especially the mini-monologues used to quickly convey what's going on. I also love Wimsey's commitment to get to the truth no matter what and his warning to the solicitor Murbles that this may not be to his liking.

The mystery itself plays along nicely as Wimsey first tries to ascertain when the General died and then begins to realise that murder is involved. However the story falls apart in the final quarter with the plot taking one twist too many and the solution straining to come together. I was also struck by Wimsey's reaction on uncovering the murderer, which is certainly contradicted by his behaviour in later books.

The book comes with the standard Elizabeth George introduction and Delgardie biography of Wimsey at the end, which - if you've bought this series - adds absolutely nothing.

All in all while it's an enjoyable read it's not up there with the best of the series.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves, the second of which is terrible, 23 July 2012
A love of Edmund Crispin, Josephine Tey, Agatha Christie and classic detective fiction in general has brought me to Dorothy L. Sayers; whether Dorothy L. Sayers herself will bring me back remains to be seen.

The first half of this decidedly dicey book is wonderfully cast in the Golden Age mould - the small matter of two deaths made delightfully more complicated by the particulars of a will - and full to the brim of mysteriously out-of-order telephones, tell-tale stains on shoes, disappearing strangers and some beautifully subtle cluing. The entire affair appears tied up by the half-way point, and then one further revelation leads us off on a merry chase once again.

Well, no, not merry. What had been a spry and cunning little puzzle swiftly descends into a turgid round of repetitive interviews from which very little of any meaning or relevance results. Indeed, as has already been pointed out in another review, our detective only tumbles to the guilty party after a quite agonisingly ham-fisted piece of author intrusion that renders most of his `investigation' entirely void. It's like the second half of a different book. The mind, frankly, boggles.

Sayers' reputation places her some distance above criticism, but the wild variation in quality here came as a thundering disappointment. When I'm able to convince myself that she could maintain the brilliance of the first half over an entire book I hope give her another try, but for the time being I'm off to lick my wounds at such a wasted opportunity.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still sings for its supper, 1 Aug. 2013
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C. Nicholls (Exmoor, England) - See all my reviews
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Either you like period mystery stories or not. Either you like detective fiction that feature old Etonian/Balliol younger sons or not. Either you're offended by the actuality of a man having a gentleman's gentleman or not. If you despise the old order, the inherent privilege of aristocratic birth, the unfair advantage of high intelligence, Wimsey is not for you.
I happen to adore all the LPW stories and have just re-read them, being decomissioned for a month, for probably the third time, but this time in sequence at a gallop. So if you haven't had the pleasure I would recommend that approach which allows one to get the occasional reference to prior events.
This one, placed in London's clubland, encompasses all of the above and also illustrates the mental and physical consequences to those who, perhaps unwisely, survived the Great War.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Can't do without it, 28 Feb. 2013
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My existing copy fell to bits. What more to say? Well, don't buy it if your vocabulary is narrow. Ms Sayers uses big words, exactly the right ones for a given situation, and she is not above throwing in a bit of French or some medical jargon. She is also not scared of airing controversial issues such as eugenics. In fact, you have to think. Her characters are anything but bland: even her detective is not Mr Nice Guy, but you believe in the period, the people and the crime, and sometimes... there are even jokes and compassion. I tend to reread each of her novels at intervals of roughly two years and always find something new, as well as enjoying the prose. No, I don't get bored because I know who did it...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining story, engaging time period., 7 May 2014
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On the book as a literary work: excellent DL Sayers. On condition from seller: not as good as they said; sold as "very good" but I would say it's more like "acceptable". This is the first time I have been disappointed by the condition of a new & used book, always been as described by sellers before, but still a good read for under £3.00 and I don't mind putting it in the charity shop when done! 5 star rating is for the enjoyment of reading, would give 2 stars for the accuracy of the description of the condition of the used book.
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