Warning! If you have not yet read the Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy L. Sayers, then you will not want to read this book before doing so--unlessWarning! If you have not yet read the Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy L. Sayers, then you will not want to read this book before doing so--unless you want the plots spoiled. Robert Kuhn McGregor and Ethan Lewis have no compunction about giving away virtually every clue and unmasking every villain in the novels and (most) short stories of the well-known mystery writer while expounding the Conundrums for the Long Week-End: England, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Lord Peter Wimsey. They assume (rightly, I believe) that anyone plunging into their literary critique will be well-acquainted with the ins and outs of Sayers's works.
MacGregor and Lewis fully examine the plots of the Wimsey novels, tying them firmly to both the events in Britain and the world during the "Long Week-End"--the period between the two World Wars--and to the life of Dorothy L. Sayers. They find themes and events in the fictional life of Lord Peter, and later Harriet, and use them to understand Sayers's views on love, marriage, the evolving place of women, and the social changes which are rapidly shaping Sayers's world. They also reveal how each of the Wimsey novels play upon different mystery conventions--from the thriller to the time-table focused crime to the how-dunnit. Sayers worked hard at her craft and used it consciously to explore her own views as well as to comment on (and sometimes criticize) the methods and conventions of other Golden Age mystery practitioners.
For readers of Sayers's work, there may be little to surprise in the examination of the novels themselves, but the historical groundwork, social critique, and background on Sayers herself is interesting and useful for anyone who wants to understand her work better or see it in a different light.
Murder Past Due by Miranda James is a cozy cat mystery that isn't just "too much" as so many of them can be. Diesel is a Maine coon cat with a human naMurder Past Due by Miranda James is a cozy cat mystery that isn't just "too much" as so many of them can be. Diesel is a Maine coon cat with a human named Charlie Harris. Diesel doesn't solve mysteries--he's just a big, lovable cat whose most extraordinary habits is walking around town on a leash, warbling and chirping instead of meowing as other cats do. The mystery solver is Charlie--college librarian and first-time amateur sleuth. Since everyone in Athena, Mississippi knows Charlie, they are more apt to gossip with him than spill what they know to the law.
When former classmate, now bestselling novelist Godfrey Priest returns home for an honorary dinner and to donate his papers to his alma mater, he stirs up more trouble than good feelings and someone decides perform a killing review on the author and end his days on the bestseller list for good. There is no shortage of suspects--from Charlie's boss who lost his wife to Godfrey's womanizing ways to Godfrey's half-brother who could have used financial help in the worst way to a possible ghost writer to the bookshop owner who lost a great deal of business when the famous author cancelled a couple of book-signing to an old flame who wound up pregnant years ago and now it looks like Godfrey wants to steal her son's affection.
Charlie spends his time in the library's archives and it looks like he'll need to dig in the town's past history to find all the clues necessary to help the sheriff's office solve the mystery of the cancelled author.
This is a pleasant cozy mystery. There are a fair amount of clues and enough suspects to distract, although I did pick the culprit out. The plot was still enjoyable and it was interesting meeting the regulars for what looks to be a good series. It's nice to have a "cat mystery" where the the cat is just a cat. He doesn't find the clues; he doesn't point them out to his owner. But he is a lovely addition to the cast. Charlie is an interesting character, but I think I like Diesel even more.
The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana is gearing up for a highly anticipated football game. Baylor University, the country's preeminentThe University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana is gearing up for a highly anticipated football game. Baylor University, the country's preeminent Protestant college, will meet the Catholic football powerhouse for the first time. Game day, most ironically, falls on Reformation Day--the day recognizing the historic moment when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (castle church) in Wittenberg in 1517. Off the field, scholars prepare a theological conference featuring participants from the rival schools that will address Catholic and Protestant history. And a female pastor (who seems to be a bit of a loose cannon) plans to protest the game as some sort of statement about Protestantism's superiority over Catholicism. She hopes to stir up a religious fervor to eclipse the football fanaticism.
Sparks seem to be flying everywhere. Even the campus event coordinator is stirring up trouble--she seems to believe it her duty to throw as many obstacles in the path of conference directors as possible. When she is found strangled shortly before the big day, there seems to be no shortage of candidates for the role of murderer. Roger (a professor) and Philip (a private eye) Knight use their various skills to help search for the killer. But there are no definite clues until Notre Dame's famed, brilliant, and troubled quarterback mysteriously disappears and evidence links him to the crime. But did he do it....or does he just know who did?
The Lack of the Irish is a fairly solid mystery offering from the late Ralph McInerny. Very light, cozy feel with the academic setting and most of the mystery-solving provided by the professor half of the brothers Knight rather than the private eye. Interesting characters and a realistic motive for the culprit. Not really in the fair-play tradition...either that or I was asleep at the wheel when it came to noticing clues, but it was a fun, quick read and I do enjoy Professor Knight and his brother.
** spoiler alert ** So...Lord Peter finally gets the girl. Well, we knew that at the end of Gaudy Night...what with them kissing madly in the middle o** spoiler alert ** So...Lord Peter finally gets the girl. Well, we knew that at the end of Gaudy Night...what with them kissing madly in the middle of Oxford and all. But this one seals the deal. The book begins with the details of the months leading up to the wedding, the wedding itself, and on to the honeymoon. Not that Sayers is so gauche as to reveal ALL about the wedding night, but it's abundantly obvious that our favorite lord and his new lady have quite a nice time of it.
The mystery fun begins the next day when the body of their neglectful host is found in the basement. It soon becomes clear that the reason the honeymoon house was not prepared was because Mr. Noakes has been dead for almost a week. Harriet rather wishes that Peter need not be bothered with all this murder business while on his honeymoon--if only because it will bring the mobs of reporters descending upon them--but soon realizes that his "job" is something they will need to come to terms with if theirs is to be happy marriage.
What follows is, as Sayers notes in the subtitle, A Love Story with Detective Interruptions. We follow Peter and Harriet as they sort out how their love story will begin and in the intervals they pick up clue after clue that will ultimately lead to the discovery of the culprit. However, the point of the story is not the murder. The point is love and marriage and what Sayers thought was the ideal way for two adults to sort things out.
The mystery isn't a very deep one and it shouldn't be hard for anyone to spot the criminal. But the detective story is not the reason I can read this novel (or any of Sayers' mysteries, for that matter) over and over again. I read them for the language and the characters and their interactions. Rereading Busman's Honeymoon, I was struck once more about how delightful the opening chapter is. It is told entirely in letters and excerpts from the Dowager Duchess's diary and I chuckle over it every single time. The voices of the various characters--from Peter's insufferable sister-in-law to the irrepressible Countess of Severn and Thames--are so distinct and vibrant. And the images they convey are such a hoot--can anyone who has read the stories not snort over the picture of the "hell-hound" reporters trying bribe Bunter? Or Peter and Harriet composing rude rhymes in order to get rid of Helen (the insufferable sister-in-law)?
I love this book. And can only regret that it is the last full-length novel written entirely by Dorothy L Sayers. The books penned by Jill Paton Walsh just aren't the same.
As I say, I love Dororthy L Sayers. I can't say it any better than that. I could read her Wimsey novels any time and I've already read them many times (more than I can count). I reach for Sayers when I need a pick-me-up, a soothing read, good writing, great quotes and references, a good dose of golden age mystery, any or all of the above. My only quibble is that I have already read them all and I have no new stories to look forward to. Oh to be in the position to pick up a Sayers for the first time--that would be bliss.
I could write pages and pages...but not nearly as well as Miss Sayers. I'll just leave it at this: If you enjoy good prose by an intelligent writer then you'll want to read these stories....more