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Customer Review

3.0 out of 5 stars Peculiar fourth book in the Wimsey series, 18 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club: Lord Peter Wimsey Book 4 (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries) (Paperback)
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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