Nancy McKibben's Reviews > Busman's Honeymoon

Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
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it was amazing
bookshelves: mystery, favorites
Read 2 times. Last read December 18, 2013 to December 19, 2013.

Busman’s Honeymoon
By Dorothy L. Sayers

At long last, after an unconscionable number of books in which we wait for her to make up her mind, mystery writer Harriet Vane has married wealthy and brilliant amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey. They plan to honeymoon in Talboys, the country house that Harriet has asked Peter to buy for her, but they arrive to an empty, unprepared house. Eventually the seller turns up dead in the cellar, his head bashed in, but not from a fall.

An inauspicious beginning for a honeymoon, perhaps, but the couple soldiers on, investigating the murder and finding out new and surprising things about each other. Harriet, having finally given in to love, is refreshingly gaga about Lord Peter. Here is her reaction when he falls in at once with the vicar’s suggestion that they attend a village concert:
Whatever fantastic pictures she had conjured up from time to time of married life with Peter, none of them had ever included attendance at village concerts. But of course they would go. She understood now why it was that with all his masking attitudes, all his cosmopolitan self-adaptations, all his odd spiritual reticences and escapes, he yet carried about with him that permanent attitude of security. He belonged to an ordered society, and this was it. More than any of her friends in her own world, he spoke the familiar language of her childhood. In London, anybody, at any moment, might do or become anything. But in a village - no matter what village - they were all immutably themselves; parson, organist, sweep, duke’s son and doctor’s daughter, moving like chessmen upon their allotted squares. She felt curiously excited. She thought, “I have married England!” Her fingers tightened on his arm.
One of the things I have always liked about these books is that the author assumes a high degree of erudition on the part of the reader, and drops quotations and allusions liberally. For example, Superintendent Kirk, the investigating policeman, recognizes one of Lord Peter’s quotations, and for the rest of the book, engages in a good-natured competition, even instructing his policemen to include the quotations in his notes so that he can look them up later.
“So,” said Peter, “Galahad will sit down in Merlin’s seat.”

Mr. Kirk, on the point of lowering his solid fifteen stone into the chair, jerked up abruptly.

“Alfred,” he said, “Lord Tennyson.”

“Got it in one,” Peter said, mildly surprised. A glow of enthusiasm shone softly in the policeman’s ox-like eyes. “You’re a bit of a student, aren’t you, Superintendent?”

“I like to do a bit o’ reading in my off -duty,” admitted Mr. Kirk bashfully. “It mellows the mind.” He sat down. “I often think as the rowtine of police dooty may tend to narrow a man and make him a bit hard, if you take my meaning. When I find that happening, I say to myself, what you need, Sam Kirk, is contact with a Great Mind or so, after supper. Reading maketh a full man -”

“Conference a ready man,” said Harriet.

“And writing an exact man,” said the Superintendent.
So there is the murder - and a particularly ingenious method, I thought - but I most enjoy the accoutrements of the story: the eccentric characters, the first view of Harriet and Lord Peter as a married couple, the earnest parsing of clues, the glimpse of bygone English country life.


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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 18, 2012 – Shelved
December 3, 2012 – Shelved as: mystery
December 3, 2012 – Shelved as: favorites
December 18, 2013 – Started Reading
December 19, 2013 – Finished Reading

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