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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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