Monday, September 20, 2010

Book Review: Strong Poison

**This is an excerpt of an article I wrote for Worthy of Note on Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter and Harriet Vane novels (part 1 of 4).  Please visit the above link to read the full article.

Welcome to the first of a 4-part series on the Lord Peter and Harriet Vane Mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers!  Those of you familiar with my article My Top 10 Fictional Boyfriends of Page and Screen know that Lord Peter Wimsey was my unequivocal choice for the most attractive fictional man of all time. Apparently my description piqued Publius' (Perhaps I should say Publii if I want to decline the Latin noun correctly) curiosity to the point that he asked me to review some Lord Peter books for the sake of public edification. Of course I was only too happy to oblige him, but before I get on to the book review, I would like to say a few words about Dorothy L. Sayers.

Sayers was one of the first women to be awarded a degree from Oxford University, and before she became famous as a mystery writer, she developed a reputation as a Christian theologian. She was also the only female member of the Inklings group that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. During the 1920s she took her first foray into fiction when she published Whose Body? a murder mystery starring the socialite sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, younger son of the 15th Duke of Denver. Needless to say, the book was popular enough to launch a whole series of Lord Peter novels and short stories over the next twenty years, making Sayers second only to Agatha Christie in popularity for British detective fiction. Perhaps the reason that Sayers was so successful was that she didn't try to copy Christie's style of labyrinthine plots and mile-long lists of suspects. Instead Sayers relied on compelling and realistic characters, an area in which Christie with all her brilliance could not come close to equaling Sayers. 

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