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Published in 1928 this Lord Peter Wimsey mystery is set around Remembrance Day. When Wimsey arrives at the Bellona Club he meets up with his friend, George Fentiman, who is a victim of poison gas and shell shock during the war. He admits to Lord Peter that he is struggling financially and is upset that he is dependent upon his wife Sheila going out to work. This novel sees Lord Peter Wimsey, and author Dorothy L. Sayers, in a much more reflective mood. There is an obvious distance between the generations – as George Fentiman struggles with the post-war world, both his brother Robert and his grandfather, General Fentiman, see the war as something to be celebrated and the elderly General perceives George’s problems as weakness.

When the elderly general is found dead in his armchair at the club, there is an attempt to contact his estranged sister, Lady Dormer. However, it is discovered that, not only had she also died, but the two met on Lady Dormer’s deathbed only the evening before. Solicitor Mr Murbles asks Lord Peter to investigate which of them died first; as the terms of Lady Dormer’s will mean that if she died first, Robert and George Fentiman will inherit a fortune. However, if General Fentiman died first, the money will go to Ann Dorland, a distant relative of Lady Dormer, who acted as her companion.

Of course, what begins as a simple investigation to discover the time of General Fentiman’s death becomes a much more involved and complicated affair. There are mysterious sightings of someone who may be able to clarify the matter, chases across the Continent, wonderful detours into some of the popular fads of the period, and even an exhumation, before Lord Peter, along with his detective-inspector friend Charles Parker, discover the truth.

This is a well plotted and interesting novel – clearly showing how the WWI veterans are viewed by the older generation and highlighting the staid, unsympathetic opinions of the elderly, ex-military members who make up the majority of the gentleman’s club. They are a generation separated by a new kind of warfare and perfectly capture the truth that the generation gap is by no means a new experience. I love Dorothy L. Sayers novels and Lord Peter Wimsey is one of my favourite fictional sleuths. This is a wonderful glimpse into a vanished world, as well as a fascinating mystery.
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Lord Peter Wimsey discovers old General Fentiman dead in his favourite chair by the Bellona Club fireside on Armistice Day. But when did he die? There/s something odd about the body and Peter suspects murder but there isn't any evidence to support his hunch and the General's doctor certifies death from a heart attack. But something continues to niggle and Wimsey - even more so when solicitor Mr Meubles - asks hi to find out exactly when the General died because it will affect his inheritance from his sister who died about the same time.

The more Peter digs into the case the more anomalies he reveals and what makes it difficult for him to be objective is that the two Fentiman grandsons are acquaintances of his and he really doesn't want to expose either of them as involved in some sort of dubious goings on.

I first read this book many years ago and decided it wasn't one of my favourites but re-reading it revealed that is a very well written book. The plot is clever and involved and the characters interesting. There are plenty of read herrings as well as clues and I hadn't recalled who the murderer was so it was a surprise to me in the end.
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on 18 October 2017
Quite apart from the detective story in this book, I find Sayers' depiction of George Fentiman portrays very clearly and in ruthless detail the lasting effects of WW1. She shows that it not only destroyed those who died or were disabled and their families, but also those who outwardly appeared to have survived intact. The scenes with George and his wife are very painful, and ring true. Many older people must still remember grandfathers who were "difficult" in various ways. It seems strange to us today that having one's wife go out to work, let alone being dependant on her income, was unthinkable and shameful for the middle classes. Although only a subsidiary plot in the book, George Fentiman's predicament, (and in other books Whimsey's occasional breakdowns) emphasise how a whole generation was destroyed by the conflict. I think she was a superb writer.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 November 2006
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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on 21 July 2017
Enjoyable detective romp, Ian Carmichael is as brilliant as ever in this program. Nuanced at times, pleasure to listen to
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on 17 August 2017
Slightly disappointed , not as good as I expected. This is not to say the production was bad.
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on 19 August 2017
good read
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on 8 January 2014
I am a staunch Dorothy L Sayers fan so cannot fault it, great read. I would definitely recommend this book
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on 4 October 2017
Maybe not the best novel by Sayers but still worth reading - a couple of amusing characters as usual
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on 17 October 2017
A top hole Wimsey classic
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