Nancy McKibben's Reviews > Unnatural Death

Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers
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really liked it
bookshelves: favorites, mystery, reviewed
Recommended to Nancy by: after reading the first, I tracked down the others
Recommended for: fans of literary English mysteries of the 1930s
Read 2 times. Last read January 1, 2013 to January 2, 2013.

Unnatural Death
By Dorothy L. Sayers

If you are a fan of the aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey, or in the process of becoming one, then one of the pleasures of Sayers’s third novel in the series, Unnatural Death, is the biographical note at the beginning of the story. Written by Lord Peter’s uncle, it gives us a chronological summary of Lord Peter’s life since infancy, including such nuggets as “he was a colorless shrimp of a child”, but, fortunately also “a brilliant natural cricketer.”

The murder of the story is intriguing because it appears in no way to have been a murder - an elderly lady, dying of cancer, dies. And why would anyone trouble to kill her since she was dying anyway? But Lord Peter’s interest is piqued by the puzzle, and his friend Parker of Scotland Yard follows reluctantly in his wake, unconvinced until late in the novel that a crime has been committed at all.

Unnatural Death introduces us to the character of Miss Climpson, a spinster whose “magnificent gossip powers” and “units of inquisitiveness” are put to work for Lord Peter in this and subsequent novels:

“‘She asks questions which a young man could not put without a blush. . . Just think. People want questions asked. Who do they send? A man with large, flat feet and a notebook - the sort of man whose private life is conducted in a series of inarticulate grunts. I send a lady with a long woolly jumper on knitting-needles and jingly things round her neck. Of course she asks questions - everyone expects it. Nobody is surprised. Nobody is alarmed . . . One day they will put up a statue to me with this inscription: To the Man who made Thousands of Superfluous Women Happy without Injury to their Modesty or Extertion to Himself.’”


A jolly detective story in the Wimsey manner, what?

(see my reviews of Whose Body? and Clouds of Witness, also by Dorothy L. Sayers and featuring Lord Peter Wimsey)
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 18, 2012 – Shelved
December 3, 2012 – Shelved as: favorites
December 3, 2012 – Shelved as: mystery
January 1, 2013 – Started Reading
January 2, 2013 – Finished Reading
January 4, 2013 – Shelved as: reviewed

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