Customer Review

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Murder most literary, 9 Mar 2003
This review is from: Strong Poison (A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery) (Paperback)
"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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Nov 2010 18:24:23 GMT
pitmillie says:
I can't see a lot wrong with any of those names! Cremorna Garden is a little strange, perhaps, but it's presumably the stage name of an actress. Waffles is presumably a nickname, and, as such, quite in keeping with the period. As for Salcombe Hardy and Sir Impey Biggs - slightly unusual Christian names but perfectly feasible. To me, these names suit the characters well and are evocative of the England of the 1930s.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Aug 2013 22:42:34 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 Aug 2013 22:43:15 BDT
keen reader says:
When I first queried the names given in books of this era, I was told that its was probably done to avoid giving the name of a real person in that situation who might then sue for libel. (e.g. a sober and family minded journalist called Salcombe Hardy might complain. Then there was a case where someone did have a villain with and unusual name and profession which turned out to belong to a real person who took legal action. After that the use of more common names and a disclaimer at the front of the book became more common. From the age of the people telling me this I'm guessing this must have happened in the late thirties or forties. I hope this helps. Sadly, my informant died recently so I can not check any details with her for you.
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