Title: Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey #5)
Author: Dorothy L. Sayers
Reader: Ian Carmichael
Audio published: August 17, 2007 by AudioGo (First published 1931)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Mystery writer Harriet Vane’s murder trial is the talk of London, and naturally, Lord Peter Wimsey is fascinated by the case. He’s not convinced she poisoned her fiance in the same way she offed one of the characters in her books, but is it because the case against her is weak, or because he’s fallen in love with her? Thus begins one of the most complex romantic relationships in mystery fiction.
I think I finally get why Sayers is one of the Queens of Mystery. Strong Poison is the third of her Wimsey books I’ve read and definitely the best so far.
It took me a couple of books, but Lord Peter does grow on you. He’s intelligent and loyal, well-read and doggone funny. He’d be almost too perfect, if he weren’t a bit of a dandy and a little snobbish. He’s quite smitten by Harriet and determined to prove her innocence. Harriet herself is a strong lady, not one to bat her eyelashes and beg for help, but she doesn’t actually get to do much to help herself. She’s kind of stuck waiting to see how it all plays out. There’s little doubt, though, that in the end he’ll prove she didn’t kill her ex. That’s one of the joys of a traditional mysteries.
I do tend to enjoy predictability in books a lot of the time. I tend to read genre books – mystery, romance. I know that the couple is going to get together in the end, or that the bad guy will be found out. I know the detective is not going to get killed, no matter what kind of ridiculous situation he/she gets herself into, although Lord Peter does do too much of that. Sometimes I’m surprised, which is fine too, but not so often that the stories make me nervous. I like when books follow the standard forms, you know?
Anyway, back to Strong Poison. Lord Peter is not at the forefront for the entire book. He sends one of the women who works for him off to hunt for clues and we get go with her as she takes advantage of another woman’s belief in spiritualism, which I enjoyed. Another female employee also takes on the job of a typist in a solicitor’s office in order to do a bit of spying. Strong women in this one, definitely.
The mystery’s a little simple to follow and the cause of death not terribly surprising. I don’t know if that’s because we’ve become a little more familiar with some of the usual suspects and methods or if it would have been the same in the 1930s. The characters are what make the book though. You’ll want to hang out with them, or have tea, or go to a soiree.
Lord Peter Wimsey Series
- Whose Body?
- Clouds of Witness
- Unnatural Death
- The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club
- Strong Poison
- Five Red Herrings
- Have His Carcase
- Murder Must Advertise
- The Nine Tailors
- Gaudy Night
- Busman’s Honeymoon
- Thrones, Dominations (unfinished manuscript completed by Jill Paton Walsh)
- A Presumption of Death (by Jill Paton Walsh)
- The Attenbury Emeralds (by Jill Paton Walsh)
Short Story Collections
- Lord Peter Views the Body
- Hangman’s Holiday
- In the Teeth of the Evidence
- Striding Folly