Top positive review
52 people found this helpful
on 7 December 2002
I am glad to find so many favorable reviews of this, Dorothy L Sayers' final detective fiction novel, on the internet. It failed to find much favor with the public or the critics when it was written in the late 1930s. In actual need of the income that her earlier works in this genre had generated (she had to support not only herself but also a non-productive husband and an illegitimate son), she negotiated with her publisher to "once again try my hand at detective fiction" after he had pointed out that the market seemed to have become saturated.
Just as a busman's holiday is a vacation where the busman is likely to be as involved with driving as he is throughout the rest of the year, a busman's honeymoon (a phrase which she coined) is one where the busman (in this case Lord Peter Wimsey) is likely to spend his honeymoon checking alibis, interviewing murder suspects, observing rigor mortis, and all the other tiresome activities of an amateur detective.
Lord Peter and Harriet Vane are the honeymooners. After their wedding (reported in a series of letters that begin the novel), they travel to "Talboys", a country house chosen by Harriet. Their reception is not as predicted. Eventually Lord Peter's butler, Bunter, discovers a corpse in the cellar.
The novel began life as a play, as you may infer from the many static scenes involving a large ensemble of characters entering and exiting. The prose is as rich in wit, classical illusions and sophistication as you will ever encounter in detective fiction. Dorothy L. Sayers was an honours graduate and capable of writing as well as George Eliot.
Don't expect the kind of fast food satisfaction that Agatha Christie provided so successfully. You will find instead the full silver service dining and wining experience here.