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Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #3)
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Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey #3)

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  14,408 ratings  ·  332 reviews
The wealthy old woman was dead – a trifle sooner than expected. The intricate trail of horror and senseless murder led from a beautiful Hampshire village to a fashionable London flat and a deliberate test of "amour" – staged by the debonair sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. Here the modern detective story begins to come to its own; and all the historical importance aside, it remai ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published June 21st 1995 by HarperTorch (first published 1927)
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Community Reviews

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I have managed to rate 76 books so far, everything from Regency romance to labor history with the same five-star system, but I can't do this one. Stars do not apply. I rate Unnatural Death ARRRRGHH!

Purely as a mystery, I think it's excellent -- excellent and very grim, the grimmer the more I think about it.

With regard to the female characters (always something I pay great attention to with Sayers), it's both deeply satisfying and terribly uncomfortable.

And then, race. Oh god, Sayers. Why? Why di
Starting the New Year with a Sayers review? Yes, please.

So Unnatural Death is maybe not the best in terms of the convoluted plot, the number of characters, etc, because it’s not one of the most personal stories for Lord Peter. On the other hand, you do get to see Peter again treating it a little like a hobby, a curiosity, and then having to face the consequences of his ego. And there’s a lot of Miss Climpson, too; not as much as one of the later books, but enough to show that she’s a really grea
mark monday
the further adventures of the inimitable mervyn bunter, prince of manservants, master of the perfectly correct response and the carefully disguised critique, expert at pretty much everything. all that plus he had to deal with dressing annoying lord peter wimsey every morning. surely the man must have been a virgo.
Where I got the book: My bookshelf. A re-read.

Well I've already failed in my attempt to re-read the Wimsey books in order, because I always thought Clouds of Witness came AFTER Unnatural Death. Wimsey seems younger in the latter, somehow.

The Wimsey books, in general, are superb examples of Golden Age detective fiction: intricate plots which give you all the clues on the page and yet count on misdirection to keep you guessing. The plot of Unnatural Death seems to arise from a question: do doctor
My copy seems to have literally been chewed at some point. By a cat? or some creature with a small mouth. But fortunately, none of the text is impacted.

'The Dawson Pedigree' so integral to this book is nearly at the end, but oddly it is not the last page, where one would normally look for appendices, etc. It's clear that the Rev Hallelujah Dawson would be the legitimate heir, if he'd been legitimated. What's NOT clear is why Simon Dawson never did marry the mother of his child (though he led her
Lou Robinson
A very successful James's pick. I hate to say it, being a life long Christie fan, but I actually think Sayers is BETTER. The book is full of great characters and a nice gritty storyline, this was a true 5*. And the good thing is, there are loads more to read!
I was REALLY into the beginning of this one. I'm not sure why, really. Maybe i just hit that magic place in a series where everything clicks. And the randomness of it appealed to me. Falling into this case by a simple overheard conversation and how very, very small all the clues were. And I liked the exploration Peter's feelings of guilt and responsibility a lot.

It got a bit too convoluted for me by the end. I was ready for it to be wrapped up maybe 30 pages before it was.

I'm still rationing my reading of Sayers' Lord Peter series but it's hard. I liked this one a lot too. Almost the perfect murder. An very clever villain, Parker and Peter, on the road, staying in pub, kicking themselves under the table to stop the other one from making a mistake. Bunter being just Bunter. So, story, this great old lady died of natural death and left her money to her great niece. The doctor makes a fuss because even if his patient was very ill (cancer) she wasn't on death's door. ...more
Another comforting reread. Less comforting here, in that the villain is a young woman who some people read as a lesbian or asexual, with that behaviour being part of what makes her a character to be suspicious of, and in that Sayers has a rare character of colour here, the Reverend Hallelujah, who she doesn't handle particularly well.

It also doesn't help that once the medical part of the mystery is solved, a lot of the tension -- e.g. is Wimsey wrong? what on earth is happening here? -- goes out
Unnatural Death is the third book in the Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series and this reader can really begin to see why Dorothy L. Sayers has been called one of the greatest mystery story writers.
So much of this book is about ethics and moral conundrums. It begins with a dinner conversation between Wimsey and his friend, Detective-Inspector Parker, about whether it is a matter of public duty for a doctor to voice his suspicions about what caused a death. They are overheard by a young doctor at th
♪ Kim
It's been awhile since I indulged in a Peter Wimsey mystery. These days I seem to prefer the ones without Harriet Vane. This audiobook version was expertly narrated by Ian Carmichael. Such a treat!
This is the third Lord Peter Wimsey novel. Wimsey and Charles Parker are interrupted, while in a teashop, by a doctor who overhears them talking about crime. He relates a tale of how he was treating an elderly lady for cancer, whose niece insisted was much nearer than death than he felt she was. When she died suddenly, without leaving a will, the doctor insisted on an autopsy, leading to bad feeling with both the niece, Miss Whittaker, and the local community. Indeed, his actions led to him havi ...more
With both lesbians and a stereotypical black reverend from the West Indies, Unnatural Death was always going to generate strong opinions in some reviewers. The lesbian characters are generally handled by Sayers side-stepping the subject completely. They are friends, companions, even devoted to each other, but the L-word is never used. It's clear to us what they are, just as it's clear to us that one of them has murdered the other – the only questions are how and why? I think Sayers tries to side ...more
Genre: Mystery

This is my favorite of the Lord Peter mysteries that do not feature Harriet Vane - and the audio version of the book was quite wonderful. Ian Carmichael continues to give a very nice rendition of Lord Peter.

This novel introduces Miss. Climpson and unlike the previous novels in the series, the point of view is split between Lord Peter and Miss Climpson, allowing us a different view into the goings on in the neighborhood of the murder. Or rather presumed murder, as the original death
My favourite so far, I think. The plot itself -- the whodunnit aspect, anyway -- isn't too much trouble to me, because I remember that around the same time as I first read it, someone in NCIS was killed in the same way as the murderer uses multiple times here. So that part seemed rather obvious to me. But Lord Peter is so fun -- and I love Parker, possibly even more in this version than in the books. Miss Climpson is rather fun, too.

It's surprising how addictive these radioplays are, too. I woul
Chris Gager
Time for another Sayers mystery. The only one I've read so far(The Nine Tailors) was awesome so this one will have a lot to live up to.

The style so far is pretty breezy, not as "serious" as "The Nine Tailors". Plenty of (verbal)fun so far. Lots of literary references a la "Trent's Own Case". The set-up/production of the book is sloppy - two boo-boos so far.

Tough to put this down last night but it was midnight! Still not up to "The Nine Tailors" but pretty good fun. This is more lightweight than
Lady Wesley
I picked up this audiobook at's BOGO sale, which ends tonight. I've read all of the Lord Peter Wimsey books many, many times, and I adored Ian Carmichael's portrayal of him in the 1970s BBC series. I know already that this one will be a five-star listen!
David B
A story overheard by chance in a restaurant puts Lord Peter Wimsey on the trail of a woman who may have committed the perfect murder. The investigation leads him and his associates, Inspector Parker and spinster detective Miss Climpson, back and forth between city and country before the suspenseful (if rather contrived) conclusion. The background and details of this novel, first published in 1927, add interest. Several lesbian characters (though never directly identified as such) figure prominen ...more
"Unnatural Death" is the third Lord Peter Wimsey mystery by Dorothy Sayers.

A note for readers looking to avoid spoilers for later Lord Peter mysteries...if you have the same edition I do (Harper Mystery paperback, ISBN: 0061043583), don't read the Biographical Note that precedes the story! I can't imagine why Sayers would include it in this book since it makes reference to any number of events in the lives of Lord Peter and his friends & family that haven't happened yet. To be clear, there
Lord Peter Wimsey is at the very top of my list of fictional characters I wish were real. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say the Lord Peter novels are at the top of my list of books I wish I could just climb right into and stick around there for a while. Dorothy Sayers had a knack for coming up with great stories that involve complicated plot twists and turns but to be honest I don’t read these books because they’re good mysteries. I read them because I love the settings – remote little E ...more
Even though I prefer crime-novels where the question is 'who did it?' to those where it is 'how did they do it?' I did enjoy this one very much, a good and solid mystery with some twists and interesting characters. Except for Miss Climpson whom I found somewhat annoying. She somehow seemed more like the parody of the typical 1920s old lady than a typical 1920s old lady if that makes sense (and her letters *ugh* frequent italics and multiple exclamation marks...that somehow annoyed me a lot, too) ...more
How do I love this book? Let me count the ways.

For firstly and most importantly, it is a detective novel in which the detectives have as much, or sometimes less, information than the reader, which gives you a good chance at having a go at guessing the ending.

For despite this I still didn't manage to guess it. The ending caught me almost-unawares: I think I worked it out about three pages before the cast did. Which is great fun.

For all of the main characters have a sharp wit and a fantastic turn
"But if he thought the woman was being murdered--"

"My dear Charles," said the man with the monocle, "it doesn't do for people, especially doctors, to go about 'thinking' things. They may get into frightful trouble. In Pritchard's case, I consider Dr. Paterson did all he reasonably could by refusing a certificate for Mrs. Taylor and sending that uncommonly disquieting letter to the Registrar."

Thus begins the story of Unnatural Death by Dorothy L Sayers. The two friends and partner sleuths, Inspec
Others have already mentioned the caveat of the casual racism, so I'll skip that.

This is a really good read. It's pretty neat and tense and creepy as a mystery (even though you know right from the start who did it), but is even better as a character study. There's plenty of Parker and Miss Climpson, and a bunch of interesting new characters. There was one revelation at the end that was supposed to be shocking but which I thought was pretty obvious, but it didn't negatively impact my enjoyment o
Andrea Hickman Walker
Knowing exactly how the murders were committed and various other points (though some of them I only remembered about halfway through), I found a fair amount of the book rather frustrating. Perhaps it's just that I read an awful lot of these sorts of books and something that may well have first appeared in the 1920s is somewhat more commonplace now? I have to say if I were going to commit a premeditated murder, this is how I'd do it (and, if I ever do, this will be a terrible thing to have writte ...more
Dear Dorothy Sayers, HOW ARE YOU SO AWESOME? The scene with Lord Peter and the vicar--oh my HEART. MY HEEEAAART. The more of these I read, the more deeply I approve. This book contained the only suspenseful scene about English trust & estates law I have ever read (possibly that has ever been written). I'm thinking that DLS was something of a law geek. Yes? Yes. The one thing that did make me a bit uncomfortable (as is often the case with books of this period that I otherwise adore *COUGH*P.G ...more
Megan Larson
This book promised from the beginning to be a very entertaining and enjoyable read. It was my first Sayers novel, and I was very pleased with Wimsey's character, who seemed oddly to combine the genius of Sherlock Holmes with the foppishness of Woodhouse's Bertie Wooster. It was full of quotes from great literature, including very interesting Bible references (which were not blatant at all), but around the middle I felt the story was getting a little too gory for me. There were some lovely charac ...more
Lauren Albert
I love Dorothy Sayers. I had her books in storage and I've begun to re-read them. It's long enough since I read them that I don't remember. I love the Lord Peter Wimsey character. Good name for him. He's full of what I would call "cheerful irony." While he is effected by tragedy, and genuinely seems to like people, he keeps a humorous attitude about himself and human nature. Here's an example. Lord Wimsey is speaking to a stranger in a bar who has started to tell a story. "Do carry on. Have some ...more
I loved this old fashioned murder mystery, with the wonderful Lord Peter Wimsey taking charge of what looks like a case of natural death. All the way through the reader knows "whodunnit" but the ways and wherefores are not so straight forward, and neither is the evidence gathering, and the final detection of the culprit. This novel - first published in 1927 is a novel of its time, as is the speach of the characters, and therefore there are some examples of dreadful non pc even racist langauge, w ...more
I'm reading the Peter Wimsey novels in publication order (after spending many years only re-reading the ones involving Harriet Vane). This one I liked a lot, even though I worked out the central plot twist fairly early in the piece. (Generally speaking I prefer not to guess such things, but at least I didn't work out the "how" until just before Lord Peter came up with it!) As a lawyer, one of the things I really loved was the chapter discussing succession law. I also loved being introduced to Ms ...more
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Mrs. Forrest's car?? 7 56 Aug 23, 2013 09:15AM  
  • A Presumption of Death (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane, #2)
  • Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7)
  • To Love and Be Wise (Inspector Alan Grant, #4)
  • Police at the Funeral (Albert Campion Mystery #4)
  • Death in the Stocks (Inspector Hannasyde, #1)
  • Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh, #4)
  • The Leper of Saint Giles (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, #5)
Dorothy Leigh Sayers (Oxford, 13 June 1893 – Witham, 17 December 1957) 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 herse
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)
  • Lord Peter Views the Body (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #4)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
  • Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #6)
  • Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #7)
  • Have His Carcase  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #8)
  • Hangman's Holiday: A Collection of Short Mysteries (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #9)
  • Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #10)
  • The Nine Tailors (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #11)
Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #1) Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #6) Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #10) Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #12) Busman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey, #13)

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