Monday, June 27, 2011

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1928/1995. HarperCollins. 256 pages.

"What in the world, Wimsey, are you doing in this Morgue?" demanded Captain Fentiman, flinging aside the "Evening Banner" with the air of a man released from an irksome duty.

Lord Peter Wimsey's skills will be tested in The Unpleasantness at The Bellona Club. For a great deal of money depends on his preciseness, his thoroughness. General Fentiman, a ninety-year-old man, died at his club (and Peter's club). No one thought anything of it at all.

Until they learned that the General's sister, Lady Dormer, had also died that morning. Until they learned that there was some question as to inheritance.

If the General died first, then Ann Dorland would inherit most of Lady Dormer's money, Major Robert Fentiman and Captain George Fentiman would receive a little money. If Lady Dormer died first, then the General would have inherited most of his sister's money. And with the General being dead too, well, that leaves his two sons quite a bit wealthier.

But who died first? The Lady's death was discovered first. But that doesn't necessarily mean she died first. For nobody is quite sure when the General died. No one suspected him of being dead. He was just sitting still in his chair holding a newspaper for hours and hours.

So Lord Peter Wimsey is asked to help 'solve' this mystery. And at first, it is just a matter of determining when he died naturally. But some of the clues just don't make sense unless he died by unnatural causes.

Was it murder? Can Lord Peter Wimsey solve this case?

I love Lord Peter Wimsey. I do. I love him. And I enjoyed The Unpleasantness at The Bellona Club. I thought it was an interesting mystery.

Lord Peter Wimsey to Mr. Murbles:
"Acid man you are," said Wimsey. "No reverence, no simple faith or anything of that kind. Do lawyers ever go to heaven?"
"I have no information on that point," said Mr. Murbles dryly. (15)

Marjorie Phelps to Lord Peter:

"Peter Wimsey! You sit there, looking a perfectly well-bred imbecile, and then in the most underhand way you twist people into doing things they ought to blush for. No wonder you detect things. I will not do your worming for you!" (162)

"Moral certainty is not the same thing as proof." (205)
Other books in the series:
  • Whose Body (1923)
  • Clouds of Witness (1926)
  • Unnatural Death (1927)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)
  • Strong Poison (1931)
  • Five Red Herrings (1931)
  • Have His Carcase (1932)
  • Murder Must Advertise (1933)
  • The Nine Tailors (1934)
  • Gaudy Night (1935)
  • Busman's Honeymoon (1937)
  • Complete Stories of Lord Peter (1972)
  • Thrones, Dominations (Dorothy Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh) (1998)
  • A Presumption of Death (Jill Paton Walsh) (2002)
  • The Attenbury Emeralds (Jill Paton Walsh) (2010)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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