Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Have His Carcase

Have His Carcase. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1932/1995. HarperCollins. 448 pages. 

The best remedy for a bruised heart is not, as so many people seem to think, repose upon a manly bosom. Much more efficacious are honest work, physical activity, and the sudden acquisition of wealth.

Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey star in this mystery novel by Dorothy L. Sayers. After the murder charge against her has been dropped, Harriet Vane needs a good vacation. And so we find her, when the novel opens, on a little trip. But relaxing isn't quite the right word for her vacation. For it turns into another murder mystery. She discovers the body of a man on the beach. She has just enough time to take a few quick pictures of the body--of the crime scene--before the tide begins to threaten both. She seeks help--the police--but the damage has already been done. The body has vanished into the sea.

Is this murder? Is this suicide? There seems to be problems with both theories. Lord Peter Wimsey has his ideas--as does Harriet--but can they ever agree with the police in the matter? As these two set about privately investigating the affair, can they work out some of their personal problems too? For you see, Lord Peter still is madly, deeply in love with Harriet. And. He's still proposing. Often.

I still love Harriet and Lord Peter. I do. I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Lord Peter Wimsey! I've included some of my favorite scenes--but none of what I include is a spoiler to the mystery, so don't worry about that!

She fell a victim to an inferiority complex, and tripped over her partner's feet.
"Sorry," said Wimsey, accepting responsibility like a gentleman.
"It's my fault," said Harriet. "I'm a rotten dancer. Don't bother about me. Let's stop. You haven't got to be polite to me, you know."
Worse and worse. She was being peevish and egotistical. Wimsey glanced down at her in surprise and then suddenly smiled.
"Darling, if you danced like an elderly elephant with arthritis, I would dance the sun and moon into the sea with you. I have waited a thousand years to see you dance in that frock."
"Idiot!" said Harriet (151).

"Why didn't you sock him one over the jaw?"
"It was a temptation. I felt that you would love me better if I did. But you would not, in your calmer moments, really wish me to put my love before my detective principles."
"Certainly not. But what's his idea?" (152)

"I may be everything you say--patronizing, interfering, conceited, intolerable, and all the rest of it. But do give me credit for a little intelligence. Do you think I don't know all that? Do you think it's pleasant for any man who feels about a woman as I do about you, to have to fight his way along under this detestable burden of gratitude? Damn it, do you think I don't know perfectly well that I'd have a better chance if I was deaf, blind, maimed, starving, drunken, or dissolute, so that you could have the fun of being magnanimous? Why do you suppose I treat my own sincerest feelings like something of a comic opera, if it isn't to save myself the bitter humiliation of seeing you try not to be utterly nauseated by them? Can't you understand that this damned dirty trick of fate has robbed me of the common man's right to be serious about his own passions? Is that a position for any man to be proud of?"
"Don't talk like that."
"I wouldn't, if you didn't force me. And you might have the justice to remember that you can hurt me a damned sight more than I can possibly hurt you."
"I know I'm being horribly ungrateful--"
"Hell!" (167)

"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)

"Now then! My dear, what's happened? You're all of a doodah!"
"Peter! I believe I've been kissed by a murderer."
"Have you? Well, it serves you right for letting anybody kiss you but me. Good heavens! You raise all sorts of objections to a perfectly amiable and reasonably virtuous man like myself, and the next thing I hear is that you are wallowing in the disgusting embraces of a murderer. Upon my soul! I don't know what the modern girl is coming to." (234)
I would definitely recommend Dorothy Sayers. Particularly, Whose Body, Strong Poison, and Have His Carcase.


© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

4 comments:

Bev Hankins 9:30 PM  

You have managed to pick one of my favorite quotes from this one. I love, love, love the "elderly elephant" quote!

Alex 6:44 AM  

The Lord Peter books are the best. So very much of their time. I like the ones with Harriet Vane the best. Have you seen the PBS versions of these that were on a while ago - they have Strong Poison, Guady Night and Have his Carcase. They are as good as the books and that is saying something.

Tribute Books Mama 12:48 PM  

thanks! for sharing

Beth 2:12 AM  

I love this one too. Now go dig up Gaudy Night before you start Busman's Honeymoon.

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