My second Wimsey book (after Murder Must Advertise), and my first with Harriet Vane. I didn't like it as much as expected; I prefer my Lord Wimsey mis...moreMy second Wimsey book (after Murder Must Advertise), and my first with Harriet Vane. I didn't like it as much as expected; I prefer my Lord Wimsey mischievous and lighthearted, like a well-disguised cat amongst mice.
Here he's peevish, though (for good reason, as the woman he loves stands accused of murder), and it's not as fun. I didn't get a good fix on Harriet Vane, either. She's such an author stand-in in this book, down to the particulars of her affair with Philip Boyes/John Cournos, that I had trouble getting a sense of her as a character, and didn't understand Wimsey's infatuation with her. I plan on reading Gaudy Night soon; hopefully that will clarify things. Everyone on Goodreads seems to love Harriet, and I'd like to too.
Criticisms aside, there's a lot of good here. Sayers is an excellent, witty writer; when Lord Peter isn't moping or pulling his hair, he's still the most darling detective who ever detected. I like all the scenes with Miss Murchison (the ones of her with Lord Wimsey for their humor, and the ones in Urquhart's office for their suspense). I like the expressive Miss Climpson. I also love the period details that emerge (e.g., the incessant smoking, the spiritualism, the social conditions that made "The Cattery" such a haven...).
Finally, as someone who once dated a boy who said he didn't believe women were capable of making great art (good art, maybe, but the great stuff was reserved for men--and this was around 2002 A.D.), I enjoyed Sayers' pointed take on female vs male writers. Recommended.(less)
Deanna Raybourn's writing is so engaging that I always stay up all night to finish her books. But I have mixed feelings about this one: the writing is...moreDeanna Raybourn's writing is so engaging that I always stay up all night to finish her books. But I have mixed feelings about this one: the writing is great, but the story & characters are not. For example, with this book, I'd give the writing style 4 stars, and the actual content 1.5 to 2 (hence the 3 star compromise).
I agree with other criticisms about the hero's ridiculous abilities (in a fair fight, he'd beat Batman). I did feel chemistry between the two leads, but given my romantic history, this may just be another sign of my bad taste in men (Brisbane has high fuckwit potential). I agree with other reviews that call out the modern sensibilities of this Victorian mystery (not to mention the frequent moral grandstanding), although I find authentic Victorian sensibilities more frustrating to read.
My biggest issues, though: I disliked the excessive stereotyping (view spoiler)[(e.g., gruff, mystical gypsies; hedonistic-yet-fussy gay men) (hide spoiler)] while at the same time thinking the heroine dumb for not recognizing the obvious. Also, the end reveal of (view spoiler)[Edward & Simon as incestuous, syphilitic homosexuals (hide spoiler)] felt like a predictable stab at a shocking twist.
Complaints aside, I did enjoy this. I will read more books from the series, to see if they improve (and to see if you-know-who you-know-what).["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)