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[274] Strong Poison – Dorothy L. Sayers

” Curious, everybody is so remarkably helpful about this case. They cheerfully answer questions which one has no right to ask and burst into explanations in the most unnecessary manner. None of them seem to have anything to conceal. It’s quite astonishing. ” [10; 120]

Writer Philip Boyes has been fatally poisoned. The onset of symptoms begins shortly after his meeting with his fiancée, Harriet Vane, with whom he involved in an illicit relationship. When it was discovered that five months had elapsed between their final quarrel and his death, and that Vane is a mystery writer who knows all about poisons—she becomes the prime suspect.

But Lord Peter Wimsey forms a singular opinion on the case and is determined to prove her innocent. To save the fallen woman on trial for life, Wimsey insinuates his own butler Bunter and a Miss Climpson to spy on and investigate Boyes’ relationships, in particular a Mr. Vaughan and Mr. Urquhart, that are suspicious of being the responsible party. Since Harriet Vane is at mercy of Lord Wimsey’s probing, she stands out less effectively than such supporting role as Miss Climpson, who is key to unveiling the significant evidence to the mystery.

Strong Poison is satisfying in its own right although I have discerned about halfway how the poison is administered, thanks to my background in chemistry. The solutions of crime, to Sayers’ credit, is tricksy, and relies heavily on coincidence. It’s a very witty tale in eliciting the motive for murder—not so much “whodunit” but how it is done.

261 pp. Pocket-size paperback. [Read/Skim/Toss] [Buy/Borrow]

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3 Responses

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed this! Isn’t Sayers lovely? And Harriet becomes a very strong character in her own right in the subsequent books about her, particularly in the third one, Gaudy Night, where Peter only comes in at all two-thirds of the way through.

  2. I have just finished reading this book and as fan of Conan Doyle, Christie, Collins and other authors of detective fiction , i was very disappointed.
    L sayers has great knowledge but she is bogged down in this book by useless detail i care not for, you can flick through a Holmes or Poirot at ease with great enjoyment but this book is unnecessary confusing, im not reading bloody Proust. I also found the plot not great and LOrd Peter annoying, arrogant and sleazy, i find him a man who pretends to be liberal but like the Anglo-French theory of the French being open lovers but rubbish behind closed doors in bed, and the English very conservative but behind closed doors lie minxes in the bed, he in the same way i suspect is probably some horrid snob behind closed doors and might lower himself to marry an author, though he will never let her forget, he lowered himself to do so .
    Another thing ; i myself am a Baronet and cringe and the thought of being called Lord and wish ‘Lord’ Peter would say call me Wimsey or Peter instead of Lord Peter to the other characters, it gives the book this ghastly class reflection in every chapter, i want murder and twists not bloody Python sketches of im better than you because im upperclass…..etc
    I did not enjoy this book or most of her others, the only ones i did like were , ‘Murder must advertise’ & ‘The NIne Tailors”
    If you want good detective fiction stick to Doyle, Collins and Christie

  3. […] The Comfort of Strangers Ian McEwan John Steinbeck: East of Eden John Steinbeck British Mystery: Strong Poison Dorothy L. Sayers Russian Author: Doctor Zhivago Boris Pasternek An Old Classic: The Aeneid Virgil […]

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