Monday, February 18, 2013

Unnatural Death (1927)

Unnatural Death. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1927. HarperCollins. 288 pages.

Unnatural Death is probably my least favorite Lord Peter mystery. I still enjoyed Lord Peter, Bunter, Parker, and Miss Climpson. And the writing--when it wasn't being racist--was pleasant enough. But. The mystery didn't thrill me. In this mystery novel, Lord Peter is trying to determine if a crime has actually been committed. The old woman's death was ruled natural. But Agatha Dawson's death was convenient, a little too convenient, in Peter's reckoning. Especially when Lord Peter realizes that Mary Whittaker's right to inherit may have been challenged by a new law which would have gone into effect with the new year. Unnatural Death is a mystery with a lot of technicalities (legal and genealogical) and a lot of additional deaths.

Here are a few of my favorite lines:

"I told you I'd be turnin' up again before long," said Lord Peter cheerfully. "Sherlock is my name and Holmes is my nature. I'm delighted to see you, Dr. Carr. Your little matter is well in hand, and seein' I'm not required any longer I'll make a noise and buzz off." (38)
"Who is Miss Climpson?"
"Miss Climpson," said Lord Peter, "is my ears and tongue," said Lord Peter, dramatically, "and especially my nose. She asks questions which a young man could not put without a blush. She is the angel that rushes in where fools get a clump on the head. She can smell a rat in the dark. In fact, she is the cat's whiskers."
"That's not a bad idea," said Parker.
"Naturally--it is mine, therefore brilliant. Just think. People want questions asked. Whom do they send? A man with large flat feet and a note-book--the sort of man whose private life is conducted in a series of inarticulate grunts. I send a lady with a long, woolly jumper on knitting-needles and jingly things round her neck. Of course she asks questions--everyone expects it. Nobody is surprised. Nobody is alarmed." (28-9)

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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