Monday, August 10, 2009

Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers

Have His Carcase is the second Lord Peter Wimsey mystery that I have read, and I am hooked. I'll be happily reading all the Lord Peter books that I can acquire as I have time!

Have His Carcase is a bit slower paced than Strong Poison, but I loved the structure of revealing the evidence piece by piece. The descriptive chapter headings were very helpful when I needed to go back and look for some detail that I might have missed. Overall, the mystery element was fascinating and the characters and suspects unique. The details were intriguing, although at times I had to restrain myself from skipping ahead to find the latest development more quickly! It was a complex mystery, one where some things seemed obvious, but the pieces just didn't seem to fit, as Lord Peter observed: "What I like about your reduces it to the complete quintessence of incomprehensible nonsense. Therefore, by the second law of thermodynamics, which lays down that we are hourly and momently progressing to a state of more and more randomness, we receive positive assurance that we are moving happily and securely in the right direction" (292). Exactly - and I didn't guess the fact that tied all the disparate parts together until just before it was revealed in the last chapter. I guess I'm a little out of practice in figuring out who-dunnit.

The growing relationship between Harriet and Lord Peter is both sweet and funny in this novel. Lord Peter is dashingly gallant and persistent: "I could kiss you for it. You need not shrink and tremble. I am not going to do it. When I kiss you, it will be an important event - one of those things which stand out among their surroundings like the first time you tasted li-chee. It will not be an unimportant sideshow attached to a detective investigation" (203).

In spite of his charm, Harriet stubbornly tries to maintain an aloof distance, but she softens just a bit, eventually realizing (if only subconsciously) that Lord Peter's attentions and off-hand proposals aren't so offensive after all, as we see here:
"Time passes when one is pleasantly occupied," said Harriet, sententiously.
Wimsey put his hat and papers down on the table, opened his mouth to speak, changed his mind, took up his belongings again and marched to the door.
"Cheerio!" he said, amiably.
"Cheerio!" replied Harriet.
He went out. Harriet sat looking at the closed door.
"Well," she said, "thank goodness he's given up asking me to marry him. It's much better he should put it out of his mind."
She must have felt strongly about it, for she repeated the remark several times (377).

I'm sorry this is such a superficial review for such a complex and witty book. But I don't have time to write more - I'm already reading Gaudy Night and looking forward to another intriguing tale of evil intent and galant chivalry. So be forewarned: these novels are addicting.

1 comment:

Lazygal said...

Gaudy Night is one of my favorite stories - not just because of the mystery but because of the love story between Lord Peter and Harriet. There's one of the most magical love scenes included (totally chaste, but oh so powerful)!