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Group Challenges > Have His Carcase - SPOILER Thread

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
This is the Spoiler Thread for Have His Carcase; the next book in our Lord Peter Wimsey challenge. I will open the thread for our extra read this month, "Hangman's Holiday," on the 12th August.


message 2: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments I think this was about the third Ld Peter that I ever read...


message 3: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments I remember (I was only about 16) being rather impressed by the feminist viewpoint in the first chapters, albeit I felt it came across as rather tart and bitter about society's attitude to women?


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
When we meet - or are rather, re-introduced - to Harriet, she does seem a little bitter I agree.


message 5: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments Harriet is certainly smarting after her ordeal in Strong Poison, and I think she just wants to be left alone for awhile, to calm herself down. Unfortunately, fate has something else in store for her!


message 6: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 170 comments I don't think it's surprising that Harriet was bitter after her ordeal. Just imagine what she faced if she had lost.


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
Yes, poor Harriet. DLS's is not giving her an easy time, is she?! Yet Harriet was so calm and dispassionate when she found the body. If you watch films set in that period, women spend half the time fainting and running around screaming. Yet, read a book written in that era and Harriet is professional, brave, resourceful and utterly calm. She takes photographs, she looks for clues, she even takes evidence - for much of the book, without her testimony, there would have been no evidence of a body even being there.


message 8: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments Its not really her personal bitterness Im talking about.. It is more a general sourness about socieyt nad women.. And Harriet./Sayers isn't usually negative about men...


message 9: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Susan wrote: "Yes, poor Harriet. DLS's is not giving her an easy time, is she?! Yet Harriet was so calm and dispassionate when she found the body. If you watch films set in that period, women spend half the time..."

Well, as a mystery writer, she must have written plenty of scenes of people stumbling over bodies, and have known what they ought to have done (but probably usually didn't).


message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
Very true, Everyman. I am sure the police would love more witnesses like Harriet - even if she was also a kind of suspect...

What did everyone think of the 'bolshevik' storyline. Did anyone think that spies were involved at any point?


message 11: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments I thought ti was silly, even as a kid, reading it. In fact the whole plot of HHC is really a bit improbable.. there are bits that are "real" like poor Mrs Weldon and I find them interesting.... but the whole Paul story is just hard to credit and I think thats' why it all feels like one of Sayers' weaker works. Plus the whole plot as a whole, the killing etc was SO hard to follow for me, that I never really worked out how it happened.


message 12: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9296 comments Mod
I have just finished this - loved it overall, fantastic writing and interesting characters, with intriguing development of Peter and Harriet's relationship, but I did find the Bolsheviks a bit far-fetched!

I also tend to be a bit disappointed if characters have conspired together to carry out the killing, rather than it just being one of them, so that it isn't a case of spotting the killer.

I didn't manage to follow all the timings and must admit the whole code/cipher explanation was way over my head. The haemophilia twist is very clever, though, and I hadn't remembered it from my previous read of the book - Sayers is very good at throwing in this type of surprise twist.


message 13: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9296 comments Mod
Nadine wrote: " there are bits that are "real" like poor Mrs Weldon and I find them interesting.... "

I found Mrs Weldon interesting and poignant too - the whole description of the older women and the dancers/gigolos at the hotel is a fascinating element of the book.


message 14: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments Judy wrote: "Nadine wrote: " there are bits that are "real" like poor Mrs Weldon and I find them interesting.... "

I found Mrs Weldon interesting and poignant too - the whole description of the older women and..."


Agree. I like the beginning of the book, becauase I can remember as a kid (and having just discovered feminism) being taken by the admittedly rather tart and bitter feminist viewpoint of the early chapters. Harreit/DLS comes across as being quite anti male...
But mrs W seems poignant. However on the whole I suppose DLS doesn't sympathise that much iwht Mrs W. She sees her as a fool...


message 15: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Nadine wrote: ... but the whole Paul story is just hard to credit and I think thats' why it all feels like one of Sayers' weaker works...."

I wonder, though, whether it would have been easier to credit by the original readers in 1932. The Bolshevik Revolution had been 14 years earlier, but there was still an element in Russia that longed for the return of the tsars, and there were constant rumors about legitimate heirs to the throne. So it might have gone down much better at the time she wrote it..


message 16: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments I suppose it was possible that someone like Paul might have belived he was a descendant of the Tsars, but I Do think that even for a rather dim bulb, to actually beleive he was gong to be restored to his throne.. was pushing probability.


message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
Certainly, the 1930's were a time of greater political extremes. Plus there were, as Everyman says, lots of rumours about possible heirs to the throne, so it may well have seemed more believable then.


message 18: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments Another thing though is that Henry Weldon does not seem very smart, woudl he have thought up all that stuff? or was that the other guy in the plot? That's one of the things about thte novel, it was so complicate that i couldn't figure out who dun what?


message 19: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments I agree (and so did Lord P) that Henry Weldon was not bright enough to have thought out that murder scheme. It was (ironically) Bright/Morecome who thought it out.


message 20: by Jill (new)

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2147 comments Having finished this book now, I have to say I did like it, but felt that DLS threw every possible situation into it that she could think of. Murder, suicide, affairs, complicity, gigolos, jealousy, mechanical failures, ciphers, and the list goes on.


message 21: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments yes that's very good Jill, I think that expresses what I was trying to say. it is too rich a stew... and IMO the characters aren't that interesting.... I think that i used to skip quite a bit...


message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
I think someone was saying she was criticised for being too character based before. Perhaps she felt to need to have a more exciting plot? The last two books have perhaps not played on her strengths, which are, I think, the characters.


message 23: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments I dont know what it was, Its not that there aren't lots of characters, but a lot of them are cliched and others are rathter fantastical. Perhaps she didn't know much about watering places or professional dancers....


message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
The professional dancers seemed a rather sad and sorry bunch, didn't they?


message 25: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
I am away next week, although I will try to post (please forgive typos next week if I am mostly using my phone!). I have opened the thread for our 'extra' book. The first four stories in this book are the LPW stories, if you want to join in, but perhaps not read all of the book (although, personally, I think the two stand-alone stories in the collection are the best in the book, while the Montague Egg stories - about a travelling salesman - are also very enjoyable).


message 26: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments Susan wrote: "The professional dancers seemed a rather sad and sorry bunch, didn't they?"
True but I'd say thats probably waht they were like!!


message 27: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Susan wrote: "The professional dancers seemed a rather sad and sorry bunch, didn't they?"

Well, not as sad or sorry as those who had nobody but them to dance with.


message 28: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Susan wrote: "the Montague Egg stories - about a travelling salesman - are also very enjoyable"

Yes, I'm very fond of Montague Egg.


message 29: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
You make a good point about the professional dancers, Everyman. It is actually quite a nice idea to have dancers there for those who holiday alone. I wonder whether that sort of position still exists - perhaps on cruise ships?


message 30: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 877 comments I remember encountering one of those dancers on an ocean liner, the first time I went to Europe at age fourteen. I was sitting alone listening to the music (my older brother was dancing) and this kind of slithery guy (in later decades he would’ve been called Eurotrash) slid up and asked me to dance. I looked outraged and said, “I’m fourteen! And we haven’t been introduced!” and he slid off; a few minutes later I saw him dancing with a dowager at least seventy years old. My grandmother later explained his role.

Ah, times have changed.


Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* (sandyj21) I did enjoy the way Harriet threw herself into the list of suspects and her rationale; she treated herself no differently to any of the other potential suspects.


Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* (sandyj21) And with regard to the Bolsheviks......I remember writing to the Russian Embassy in the 60's requesting information for some school project and my mother being horrified, firmly believing that we would now be under surveillance for communicating with the communists!


message 33: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* wrote: "I did enjoy the way Harriet threw herself into the list of suspects and her rationale; she treated herself no differently to any of the other potential suspects."
Not exactly nice was it? I wonder if she would have been in danger had there been another murder? I suppose so, since Peter came rushing to help her...


message 34: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
Harriet is a mystery writer though, so possibly she is intrigued by the murder from a professional standpoint. I think LP saw her as a suspect before she even did, which is why he appeared so promptly. He seems to think he should be around to make sure she is safe - while proposing marriage every now and again, obviously!


message 35: by Jill (new)

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 2147 comments I think if he stopped proposing she would be pretty upset. She buys a dress to please him and she even has to talk herself into not being interested in where he is and what he is doing.


message 36: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 877 comments I agree; I think (based on Strong Poison, haven’t gotten started on Have His Carcase yet) we are meant to understand that she has scruples that keep her from saying yes, but the scruples are ridiculous so I root for him to persevere.


message 37: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
Yes, it is possible that Harriet is sending out mixed messages - which are enough to encourage him. She did buy the dress he suggested, after all.


message 38: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9296 comments Mod
Yes... and must say I was impressed at the idea of being able to find a dress the colour of a particular type of wine! Maybe dress shops have changed a lot since those days...


message 39: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments Abigail wrote: "I agree; I think (based on Strong Poison, haven’t gotten started on Have His Carcase yet) we are meant to understand that she has scruples that keep her from saying yes, but the scruples are ridicu..."

why do you think the scruples are ridiculous?


message 40: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments Mixed messages, exactly!


message 41: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 877 comments Hi, Nadine, I don’t know whether her scruples would be considered inherently ridiculous; but I believe the reader is supposed to regard them as, if not ridiculous, at least excessive.

(1) She doesn’t want to marry Lord Peter because he’s a lord and she’s a commoner. By the time Dorothy Sayers was writing, this attitude was widely rejected, at least by the younger generation in England. Perhaps Harriet feels concerned about this because she has already experienced the sting of carrying on an outside-the-norm relationship (living unwed with the guy who died in Strong Poison) and doesn’t want to be live under the unfounded accusation of marrying for gain. This one is ridiculous not only because the attitude is passé but also because—as she had already once decided in her life—one should live according to one’s own ethics and priorities, not those of others.

(2) She doesn’t want to be seen as marrying Lord Peter as a reward to him for having rescued her from execution for murder. Same objection as above: she’s shrinking from the perceptions of outsiders instead of consulting her own preference.

I’d have to get into Have His Carcase to come up with more thoughts on the matter, but this should explain the general tendency of my thoughts on the subject. She’s afraid to be happy on her own terms because she has endured so much calumny from the Great Unwashed for attempting to do so in the past. She has to learn to trust her own judgment. I don’t get the sense that she has any personal objections to Lord Peter.


message 42: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments I dont really know if hte first objection is one of Harriet's? Of course there's a class differnece, but I dont really know if H thinks of it that much.
WRT the second one, i think that that is very strong...and I think Harreit does feel it very much, that she doesn't want to marry him becauase she has to feel grateful to him. I dont see that that objection is becauase of her belief that outsiders will see it as wrong or odd or that she is rewarding him for getting her off a murder charge. A litlte perhaps, but mostly it is her own feeling that she does not want to have to be grateful to him. I wonder if that objection has to do iwth DLS's own personal feelings or experiences...becuase i woudl say it is the main thing that keeps her from marrying him..


message 43: by Judy (last edited Aug 17, 2016 02:43PM) (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9296 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "I remember encountering one of those dancers on an ocean liner, the first time I went to Europe at age fourteen.

Thanks for that memory! I keep finding myself wondering about the professional dance partners in this book and how close they were to reality.

There are also many films from this era with women working as professional or "taxi" dance partners, who could be hired by the dance, and again, as with the gigolo-style characters here, there is the idea of them also selling other services. It would be interesting to read something about the history of these professional dance partners - I wonder if there is a book about this?


message 44: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 63 comments I am happy to be done with HHC and to read the "spoiler" thread. I enjoyed all the comments including Abigail 's story.

The Bolshevik thing seemed weak to me, so it's helpful to be reminded that 1930s readers were more tuned in. I could have done without the family tree. There seemed nothing to find out in it. I did like the cipher stuff though since I'd never read about this kind of cipher.

I was really engaged by the "mystery" until LP had his epiphany about the time of death, which I didn't see coming, and the conclusion started to drag. The discoveries of clues were the best parts, IMHO.


message 45: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
I think this was still a mix of clues and character. If anyone, like me, preferred the earlier books then I think you will enjoy, "Murder Must Advertise," which is much more filled with people and is largely based in an advertising agency - in which, indeed, DLS's once worked herself.


message 46: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2940 comments Mod
I have read and viewed HHC multiple times so knew the basics. I definitely remembered the blood clotting component and the other twists came back to me as they occurred. I greatly enjoyed this reread, especially the banter between LP and Harriet. I'll miss her in the next book.

The Bolshevik scare among uninformed the rang true to me: my mother worried about Russians in the 1950's (might have been tied to McCarthyism in the states though I knew nothing about that at the time). I thought LP's assumption that he knew the code right away seemed a bit odd unless that was a common puzzle at the time. And, of course, I just kept "shouting" at him: Russian royalty and hemophilia!

I hope, and expect, the mother and the French dancer had a happy life together. She deserves a break.


message 47: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 877 comments I’m still chugging along through it, but hemophilia had occurred to me; the villain seems pretty obvious. I must say that contrary to many in this discussion, I have thoroughly enjoyed the interplay between Harriet and Lord Peter. There is mutual respect and mutual attraction, and I love their arguments and debates, and how they are so into each other’s heads that they can speak in shorthand. It seems to me that within the constraints of her frame (her preconceived ideas about herself and her life), Harriet gives Lord Peter a good deal of encouragement. But I don’t want to restart the arguments!

I’m also enjoying the way the clues and details are laid out, as if the reader were right there looking over the characters’ shoulders.

Must say I was shocked when Lord Peter reminded Henry about his family, class, and wealth—he must have been really nettled to have acted so vulgarly!


message 48: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments I must be very stupid becuase I dont think i ever worked out who the villains were in Peter novels


message 49: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Sandy wrote: "I thought LP's assumption that he knew the code right away seemed a bit odd unless that was a common puzzle at the time.."

I think that unraveling codes, cryptograms, intellectual puzzles, and all that were a common interest of educated readers of that period. My father, raised and educated in England, was a passionate lover of any intellectual challenge, including English crossword puzzles (very, very different from American ones!) and all sorts of puzzles and challenges. Growing up, I was given cryptogram books the way some children today are given Sudoku books today. And our bookshelves were filled with puzzle books from such setters (one who sets puzzles) as Martin Gardner, E.R. Emmet, Lewis Carroll (in addition to all the puzzles in the Alice books, he wrote "Pillow Problems" and "A Tangled Tale" (which consisted of a series of "knots" each of which had embedded in it "one or more mathematical questions -- in Arithmetic, Algebra, or Geometry, as the case might be -- for the amusement, and possible edification, of [my] fair readers.")

It was this passion for puzzling which underlay the success of the code breakers at Bletchley Park. (I hope you know the fascinating story of Bletchley Park! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bletchl... )


message 50: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10363 comments Mod
Bletchley Park is fairly near where I live, so I have visited there. There are some good novels featuring Bletchley too, including Enigma of course.

I remember reading a book about the history of Bletchley which told about a visit by Churchill. The army officers there were meant to drill all these scientists - officially on war work - and were despairing of getting them to do anything correctly.

Apparently one sergeant major marched Churchill to a room where one of these great men were sitting by the fire smoking a pipe and asked him indignantly, just what he thought he was doing. Churchill replied, "he's thinking," and he promptly banned all drill for those doing much more important work :)


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