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Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey #3)

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  18,613 Ratings  ·  538 Reviews
This full-cast dramatization is adapted by Chris Miller and produced by Simon Brett. The wealthy Agatha Dawson is dead and there are no apparent signs of foul play. Lord Peter Wimsey, however, senses that something is amiss and he refuses to let the case rest—even without any clues or leads. Suddenly, he is faced with another murder—of Agatha's maid. Can super-sleuth Wimse ...more
Audio CD, 7 pages
Published May 7th 2002 by BBC Books (first published 1927)
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Evgeny
Mar 28, 2017 Evgeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wealthy woman in a countryside was dying of cancer. She had the best possible care: a loving niece, a competent nurse, and a doctor specializing in cancer treatment. For all the care you can imagine that her illness was even more serious at that time - in the beginning of the twentieth century. So she finally died. Everybody was expecting the event except for the doctor who was ready to stake his professional reputation that the death came a little early and way too unexpected. He insisted on ...more
Dorothea
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
...more
Jason Koivu
The continuing adventures of that dandy Lord Peter Wimsey continue.

In Unnatural Death, our somewhat foppish hero, the amateur detective Wimsey suspects there may be more to the cancer-assumed death of an older lady. But what are the means? What is the motive?

I've read about five of Sayer's Wimsey books so far and this is the least engaging. There's nothing blatantly wrong with it, it's just not quite up to standard. I struggled to get a grasp on why I felt this way. I think it's because there's
...more
Susan
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
Jim
Mildly amusing, mid 1920s Sherlock Holmes wanna-be Lord Peter Wimsey & his Scotland Yard side-kick Parker try to solve a murder that only Wimsey believes in at first. I would have liked it at half its length, as a BBC play, or even a movie more. It was very well read.

The characters were good. Mrs. Climpson, one of too many women with nothing to do, was elegantly put to work ferreting out secrets & Bunter was the perfect man-servant. Parker was a bit of cardboard straight man, though. Wim
...more
mark monday
Nov 02, 2010 mark monday rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murdertime
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.
Cindy Rollins
Jun 08, 2017 Cindy Rollins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, reread, 2017
I decided to begin my rereadings of the Lord Peter books with book 3. I have started over on volumes 1 and 2 so many times that I thought it would be better to skip them and get right to it.

This is a delightful episode in the series with the appearance of Miss Climpson. It is also quite a series of contrasts between the various female spinster characters in the book.

I almost finished the book today during my three hour stint at the DMV, keeping up my record of reading appropriate literature wh
...more
Jane
Mar 27, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
...more
Nikki
Dec 31, 2014 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime
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
...more
Jaya *The Velocireader*
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Was hankering for a cozy mystery that I'v not read before, thought of trying this book. Can't say am much impressed. It was just an okay read with a mildly annoying protagonist.
The mystery wasn't much about who-had-done-it but how-it-was-done. Read this author for the first time, will try a few more of her stories before I pass judgement.
Just about almost-there-2.5-stars from me.
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
Jan 19, 2016 ᴥ Irena ᴥ rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
1.5

The only reason why I won't stop reading this series is I really like Lord Peter Wimsey. The problem is he isn't the only main character here. I don't mind Parker but both of them got swept under all the gossip you get to read here. I will just pretend I never read this book.

There are so many problems in this book that I am at a loss where to start. First, Wimsey doesn't play that much a role here anyway. He does start everything though.
The case starts 'almost imperceptibly, in the overhearin
...more
Olga Godim
Jan 15, 2012 Olga Godim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Another delightful re-read of another Peter Wimsey mystery. This time, our lordly sleuth doesn’t even have a case. He overhears a young doctor in a restaurant, talking about his suspicions in the recent death of one of his patients. The lady was elderly and suffered from cancer. She was dying anyway, and even the autopsy the doctor had insisted on didn’t reveal anything criminal. The death was ruled natural, but the doctor was unsatisfied. He considered it unnatural and untimely – in his opinion ...more
Nikki
This is a quick review, since I’ve read the book the Unnatural Death radio play was based on several times, and heard the radio play at least once before too. The casting is generally great: the voices are perfect for the characters, for the most part, though sometimes the dramatics are a bit too dramatic (the boy scout in episode… five or so comes to mind). Miss Climpson’s letters are narrated by the character, which seems fun at first (and gives you a wealth of information on the character’s a ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
This is by far my favourite Sayer so far.

The Whittaker case begins almost imperceptibly, with the overhearing of a casual remark in a Soho restaurant where Lord Peter Wimsey and Charles Parker are dining. It ends amid a roar of publicity that shakes England from end to end.

A wealthy old woman is died some three years earlier, a little earlier than was expected, but then she was in the last stages of cancer. Miss Dawson's death has aroused no suspicion, despite her doctor's dismay at her end comi
...more
Lou Robinson
Jan 18, 2014 Lou Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: james-pick
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!
Writerlibrarian
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
Valerie
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
...more
Leslie
Jun 07, 2017 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, audiobooks
Ian Carmichael is a great narrator for this book. While I remembered the basic plot, there were details I had forgotten so even knowing the solution it was a fun read (listen).
D.G.
This book was a throughly enjoyable entry in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. The mystery was adequate, mostly about proving that a murder had been committed instead of finding out the killer, which was known. I didn't know how the murder was accomplished - frightfully simple and clever - but the twist at the end wasn't a surprise at all. Lord Peter shouldn't have been taken in.

It was also interesting to see that Dorothy Sayers had a character like Miss Marple before the first Miss Marple book was
...more
Judy
I'm enjoying rereading the Lord Peter Wimsey books in order. This one has an intriguing start, when Peter and his policeman friend Parker are eating out together, and an overheard conversation leads to the reopening of what would now be called a "cold case".

Peter is intrigued by a doctor's claims that the death of an elderly and terminally ill woman, Agatha Dawson, was suspicious. He decides to do some investigating, with the help of an unlikely sidekick, the middle-aged and prim Miss Climpson,
...more
Nikki
Apr 17, 2012 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime
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
...more
Katie
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 LOVE PARKER. I've he
...more
Andree
Nov 21, 2016 Andree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read, 2016
3.5 stars. This one is not one of my favourites. I don't think it's as good on reread. Although, I do like Mrs. Climpson, and her letters with all of her italics. And I mean, Lord Peter is always fun. It's a solid read, just not one of my favourites.
Susan in NC
Sep 19, 2011 Susan in NC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread
Still four stars for me after reading for the first time several years ago. After brain surgery I tire easily - even reading - so rereads on the iPad blown up to a large font are the only way I can read for now!
Kim
Jan 04, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 4-star
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!
Tina Tamman
This novel was recommended to me by a lawyer friend whom I asked about wills. I intend to write a novel that involves wills and he thought this novel would give me some background. Not sure it did because I've recently read a much better novel about wills ("No Name" by Wilkie Collins). All the same, I much enjoyed the will problem as posed by Sayers.
I'm not the best reader of detective stories because I invariably find the motive unconvincing. I so much would like to be convinced but it rarely h
...more
Fiona
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
...more
James
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
Terra
Mar 27, 2011 Terra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sbuchler
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
...more
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Mrs. Forrest's car?? 7 63 Aug 23, 2013 09:15AM  
  • Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7)
  • A Presumption of Death (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane, #2)
  • Police at the Funeral (Albert Campion Mystery #4)
  • A Shilling for Candles (Inspector Alan Grant, #2)
  • The Shortest Way to Hades (Hilary Tamar, #2)
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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
More about Dorothy L. Sayers...

Other Books in the Series

Lord Peter Wimsey (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #1)
  • Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey, #2)
  • Lord Peter Views the Body (Lord Peter Wimsey, #4)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
  • Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey, #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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