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The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
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The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey #5)

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,879 Ratings  ·  319 Reviews
90-year-old General Fendman was definitely dead, but no one knew exactly when he had died -- and the time of death was the determining factor in a half-million-pound inheritance. Lord Peter Wimsey would need every bit of his amazing skills to unravel the mysteries of why the General's lapel was without a red poppy on Armistice Day, how the club's telephone was fixed withou ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 10th 1995 by HarperTorch (first published 1928)
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Published in 1928 this Lord Peter Wimsey mystery is set around Remembrance Day. When Wimsey arrives at the Bellona Club he meets up with his friend, George Fentiman, who is a victim of poison gas and shell shock during the war. He admits to Lord Peter that he is struggling financially and is upset that he is dependent upon his wife Sheila going out to work. This novel sees Lord Peter Wimsey, and author Dorothy L. Sayers, in a much more reflective mood. There is an obvious distance between the ge ...more
⊱ Irena ⊰
May 03, 2016 ⊱ Irena ⊰ rated it really liked it

I can't help but be amused by that understatement in the title. I love it.

A Crimean War veteran, General Fentiman, died in his chair at the Bellona Club. Lord Peter Wimsey is there too. Since the general was very old, nobody asks any questions. Well, not until they realize it is very important to know the exact time of the general's death because of a surprising inheritance.
Next thing you know, any other weird things pile up and Lord Wimsey is asked to find out the exact time of the man's de
As a crime novel, it's not bad; compared to her earlier works, it's a definite improvement in terms of the tightness and plausibility of her plotting. Not the best crime novel you're ever going to read, and lightweight compared to the later books, but it still has a nice few twists and turns in it along the way.

Of course, this being a DLS novel, I'm not actually reading it for the murder mystery. The book's introduction describes Sayers' work is very much a 'tapestry novel', and I'd have to agre
Jan 06, 2011 Lightreads rated it liked it
On the surface, a pleasant puzzle-piecey little murder mystery, with Peter bounding here and there, declaiming and detectiving his way to an answer. But under that . . . yikes. What an uncomfortable book, with people turning and twisting and snagging on each other like brambles on silk. Everyone stuck inside a little box called marriage or poverty or shell shock or police rules. This book is all tight spaces – the badly lit veteran’s club, the body crammed up tight in the phone box, the stifling ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
This is quite the best Lord Peter Wimsey novel I have read thus far.

Lord Peter's personality is beginning to flower - he really is quite a sweetie with a kind heart, a man who likes to see people happy. He even gets to play matchmaker. I love the way his mind works, and he has quite a theatrical bent.

Lord Peter had been joking about how a body could sit in its chair in the club undetected, when one is discovered. Everyone had thought the elderly General Fendman was merely snoozing by the fire. B
May 01, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: my bookshelf. A re-read.

I have grown to love this Lord Peter Wimsey mystery because of its somberness, although I remember that when I first read it as a teen I found it uninteresting. Amazing how history (and, therefore, literature) becomes more complex and interesting as you age. The mystery LPW is called on to investigate is the time of death of ancient, doddery General Fentiman, which will make a big financial difference to one or more of three potential heirs. Of cours
Mar 02, 2015 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime
It’s fortunate for me that these books are so familiar to me by now, because I got distracted by other books in the middle of this. It’s not my favourite of the bunch, which helps to explain why; I do like the conflicts between Parker and Peter that’re brought out by the nature of the story, the awkwardness between them as Peter has to suspect one of his own friends. That’s perhaps the best part of this: the characterisations of those two as they try to balance friendship and duty; Peter’s strug ...more
Featuring Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey, Peter Jones as Bunter, and Gabriel Woolf as Inspector Parker

This has never been my favourite of the books, though it does touch on some of the horrors of war (in the figure of George Fentiman) and there are some interesting moral issues — particularly because this is one of those books in which Peter chooses to offer someone a “gentlemanly way out”. On the one hand, it bothers me because the guy is basically painted into a corner: his guilt has been
Ken Moten
Mar 08, 2013 Ken Moten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very convenient time for me to review my first novel by Dorothy Sayers. During [US] Womens History Month and on International Womens Day.

While this is not my first mystery story I ever read it is the first mystery novel. I had read some Sherlock Holmes stories in school and I was have read the Poe detective stories (which I am procrastinating on reviewing at the moment) but never a detective story in novel form. I have to say that I don't think I could have found a more interesting character th
Olga Godim
Feb 23, 2015 Olga Godim rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
3.5 stars
There is a question in my mind regarding this book. It is listed as #5 in Sayers’s famous detective series about Peter Wimsey, an amateur sleuth. But my copy of the book states its year of publication as 1921, which would make it #1 in the series. The quality of this novel seems to support such assessment – it’s not very high. Nonetheless, it’s a solid mystery novel and it raises some interesting moral questions.
In the beginning of this novel, Peter is asked not to investigate a crime b
Aug 07, 2011 Tara rated it really liked it
Honestly, I've been reading all these Dorothy Sayers books in secret recently, but I can't hide it anymore. I have rigorously avoided mystery novels because my mother refuses to read any book that is not Jane Austen or a mystery penned by a woman. It's a family joke. We get her things outside the box: not interested. It's female flowering dogwoods, power-saws so she can do more home repair, and mystery novels by women. As a young reader I said: I will read theology, history, philosophy; I will n ...more
Another enjoyable entry in the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries canon. This time, with no murder to solve, Wimsey is called in to assist with a slight problem at his club: The Bellona Club. An elderly member of the club, General Fentiman has died in the club, and while the circumstances aren't suspicious, there is a problem. His estranged sister died the same day – the very same morning – and the terms of her will are dependent on which of them expired first. If Lady Dormer went first then the money ...more
Lynne King
Mar 21, 2013 Lynne King rated it really liked it
Dorothy Sayers, in my opinion, is one of the major novelists from the golden age of detective authors in the 1920s and 1930s in the US but the best author has to be John Dickson Carr. His "Devil in Velvet" (time travel book regarding a pact with the devil) was sublime as were all of his other books, I believe that there were more than eighty, although the latter ones, in my opinion, were not so good.

Still Dorothy Sayers definitely deserves her place in history.
Abigail Bok
May 06, 2016 Abigail Bok rated it it was amazing
An old man’s body is found sitting in an armchair before the fire at the Bellona Club, a gathering place for veterans. When did he die, and how did he come to die without anyone noticing? These questions become unexpectedly significant when it turns out that a very large inheritance depends on the answers. Lord Peter Wimsey is on the scene and asked to make private inquiries.

The answer to the first question is pretty clear from the start; but just as the reader is indulging in self-congratulatio
Nov 07, 2013 Uncle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
'What in the world, Wimsey, are you doing in this Morgue?" demanded Captain Fentiman.

Old General Fentiman is found dead in his favorite armchair at London's Bellona Club, still clutching his morning newspaper. Only the previous day he had finally made up with his ailing sister Lady Dormer on her deathbed. The deaths of two very elderly people, only hours apart, though strange, do not seem unnatural. Or do they? So begins The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928) by Dorothy L. Sayers.

Lady D
Aug 06, 2011 Madeline rated it liked it
A pretty well-done mystery, with lots of good twists and turns, but not quite up to the standard of Sayers' later novels. All the regulars are here: Mr. Murbles, Bunter, Charles Parker, and most delightfully, the man known as Waffles. As in her other early novels, the big theme of this one is post-World-War-I trauma, and the mystery centers on this concept. The body that Peter investigates was found on Armistice Day, which ends up being an important factor in the case.

Lord Peter is delightful a
Part of the problem with this book is I set it down for a week or so. Not a good idea for a book with a somewhat complicated plot! But also . . . there were several times when the plot felt like it was winding down and then PLOT TWIST happened to keep it going. I can like plot twists like that, but the ones here just felt so last minute. And it was all pretty convoluted.

Didn't really like the end either. (view spoiler)
Jan C
Jan 01, 2012 Jan C rated it really liked it
This was a re-read. Not sure how many times. I couldn't locate my copy so I had .to get it from the library. When all else fails, try the library.

I remembered some of it. But definitely not the culprit.

It does involve some degree of what we now call PTSD, but was then called shell shocked, since almost everyone is a veteran of WWI. One of the suspects has a fair amount of trouble with it, can't earn a proper living for himself and has live off his wife, which kind of compunds his problems. And
Golden Age mystery. General Fentiman, ninety years old, is found quietly passed away in his armchair at the Bellona Club. It's hardly what you want to happen at a respectable club, but it wouldn't have been anything Lord Peter Wimsey, gentleman sleuth, felt the need to involve himself in, if there hadn't been one curious question of inheritance. The general's sister left her considerable fortune to her brother, provided he did not predecease her. The lady also died that morning. If she died firs ...more
Nov 08, 2007 Maria rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own, mystery
With this, I finish my last LPW mystery. It was a good time. *moment of silence* Anyway --

When half-star ratings are added, I'll add another half star to this. It's not quite the literary accomplishment that deserves four full stars, but that shouldn't deter anyone from reading it. This is a really solidly written mystery, an unexpectedly interesting read. It's not a book most people mention as one of their favourites, but I can't think of a bad thing to say about it.*

It had twists and was rathe
Apr 28, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
I really love this book. For an unpretentious 1920s mystery novel, it really has a lot going on. There's the mystery itself, which has enough twists and turns to remain interesting. (I didn't guess the outcome, which is always a plus!). Then there is the social commentary: the plight of World War I veterans, the effects of poverty and unemployment, the changing role of women in society, relationships between men and women. And of course there is Peter Wimsey: intelligent, intuitive, funny and co ...more
May 28, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
If you like intricacies of intestacy law then boy this is the book for you! This book is quite akin to early Avengers episodes which hinge on ambiguities of interpretation in offshore tax law (or maximum acceptable height for hedgerows). Luckily I quite like early Avengers episodes and I still quite like this one. I'm still not feeling very used to reading non-Vane Wimseys, each non-Vane mystery appears to be quite obvious and open about whodunnit at least 40% of the way through the book. Then c ...more
Feb 17, 2016 Bookista rated it really liked it
4.5 stars for the first of many many Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries! Loved this book--a quintessential cozy! Docked half a star for the unrealistically pat ending. *spoiler* I just don't see a cold-blooded killer acting so gentlemanly at the end.
Dec 23, 2011 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime, audio
Not my favourite when I read it, I remember, and rather too predictable, I think. I remembered most of the twists and turns, and figured out what I didn't. The best part about this radioplay was Wimsey and Parker and Wimsey figuring out to some extent that his meddling messes things up and gets people into trouble. Decidedly lacking in Bunter, though.

I really forgot how long it takes for there to be much of an overarching plot. I think it took until Harriet Vane enters the scene for me to be ent
Apr 01, 2016 Mairi rated it it was amazing
A fabulous Peter Wimsey mystery. I love his character in this.
Apr 10, 2016 Damaskcat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dls-challenge
Lord Peter Wimsey discovers old General Fentiman dead in his favourite chair by the Bellona Club fireside on Armistice Day. But when did he die? There/s something odd about the body and Peter suspects murder but there isn't any evidence to support his hunch and the General's doctor certifies death from a heart attack. But something continues to niggle and Wimsey - even more so when solicitor Mr Meubles - asks hi to find out exactly when the General died because it will affect his inheritance fro ...more
Sep 08, 2014 Roisin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can I say? If you have never read a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery please do. Absolutely fabulous! Been ages since I last read a Dorothy L Sayers book. This book reminded me what a wonderful writer she was.

In this book, an elderly chap is found dead at our amateur sleuths old club on Armistice Day and not long after this so does the old boy's sister, which causes all kinds of havoc, especially when Lord Peter Wimsey is employed to find out what has happened. Was the old man murdered? By whom? Th
Jul 08, 2015 Whitney rated it liked it
Summary: "See here, Lord Peter, an old man has died in his chair, and all the chaps here at the club didn't realize it for a day or so. Beastly unpleasant business, what?"

Lord Peter: "Something is suspicious about this dead old man. And I feel sorry for his beastly sons for some reason. Must be something to do with the War."

Lord Peter solves the mystery, which involves red herrings and maybe a doctor or two, lawyers, etc.

These are starting to blend together for me, as I read in sequence. But I
Cydni Perkins
Jun 19, 2015 Cydni Perkins rated it it was amazing
I was really impressed with the author's plotting in this one, as well as her pacing. I also enjoyed her wry teasing of the detective fiction genre, such as the scene where Wimsey and his friends are making a list of possible suspects and Wimsey insists on having one character on the list simply because he's the person least likely to have done it and so that means he must have. Which is how I often solve the mystery myself. But this book kept me guessing and the solution surprised me, which is ...more
Feb 28, 2012 Dorothea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I was trying to read all the Wimsey novels in order, but I got confused and skipped directly from Whose Body? to The Unpleasantness of the Bellona Club. So I might make some observations in this review that I wouldn't have made if I'd been reading in the correct order!

I really like this one. I think the ways Sayers discusses women are -- agreeably knotty and interesting, if not what I always agree with. And I like the shape of the plot (more below).

I can never tell if I would have got along with
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Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.

Dorothy L. Sayers is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante's Divina Co
More about Dorothy L. Sayers...

Other Books in the Series

Lord Peter Wimsey (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #1)
  • Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #2)
  • Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #3)
  • Lord Peter Views the Body (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #4)
  • Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #6)
  • Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey, #7)
  • Have His Carcase  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #8)
  • Hangman's Holiday: A Collection of Short Mysteries (Lord Peter Wimsey, #9)
  • Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #10)
  • The Nine Tailors (Lord Peter Wimsey, #11)

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“Books... are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with 'em, then we grow out of 'em and leave 'em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.” 211 likes
“Yes, and look at the corpses. Place always reminds me of that old thing in Punch, you know—‘Waiter, take away Lord Whatsisname, he’s been dead two days.’ Look at Old Ormsby there, snoring” 1 likes
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