Thursday, January 13, 2011

Strong Poison

Strong Poison. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1930/1995. HarperCollins. 272 pages.

There were crimson roses on the bench; they looked like splashes of blood.

I loved this one. I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one! It is a mystery starring Lord Peter Wimsey. And it introduces a new character, Harriet Vane, a novelist. She writes detective novels. Which may not be to her benefit, since when readers first meet her she's on trial for murder, accused of poisoning her ex-boyfriend, Philip Boyes. Since arsenic poisoning happened to be the subject of her latest book, well, they're saying she has all the know-how and a motive to match. One of the last places he was seen--before he took ill--was her place.

But. Hope is not lost. For Lord Peter Wimsey believes wholeheartedly in her innocence. And though he has only a month to prove it, he's determined to find all the proof and evidence needed to clear her name. In Strong Poison, it is more than curiosity motivating him to act. For he has fallen in love with Harriet--heart and soul, truly, deeply, madly in love with her. I *knew* that a romance between these two was coming. I just didn't expect the proposal to be so soon! And it's a little swoon-worthy, I think!
"Such a Victorian attitude, too, for a man with advanced ideas. He for God only, she for God in him, and so on. Well, I'm glad you feel like that about it."
"Are you? It's not going to be exactly helpful in the present crisis."
"No; I was looking beyond that. What I mean to say is, when all this is over, I want to marry you, if you can put up with me and all that."
Harriet Vane, who had been smiling at him, frowned, and an indefinable expression of distaste came into her eyes.
"Oh, are you another of them? That makes forty-seven."
"Forty-seven what?" asked Wimsey, much taken aback.
"Proposals. They come by in every post..." (44)

"Why? Oh, well--I thought you'd be rather an attractive person to marry. That's all. I mean, I sort of took a fancy to you. I can't tell you why. There's no rule about it, you know."
"I see. Well, it's very nice of you."
"I wish you wouldn't sound as if you thought it was rather funny. I know I've got a silly face, but I can't help that. As a matter of fact, I'd like somebody I could talk sensibly to, who would make life interesting. And I could give you lots of plots for your books, if that's any inducement."
"But you wouldn't want a wife who wrote books, would you?"
"But I should; it would be great fun. So much more interesting than the ordinary kind that is only keen on clothes and people. Though of course, clothes and people are all right too, in moderation. I don't mean to say I object to clothes." (45)
It was inevitable really. How could I not love Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey?!

Can Wimsey find the real murderer? Can he free the woman he loves? And if he does free her, will he win her heart?

I would definitely recommend this one. I loved so many things about it--the characters, the writing style, the dialogue, the humor, the suspense.

More of my favorite quotes:
"What a clear mind you have," said Miss Climpson.
"When I die you will find 'Efficiency' written on my heart." (53)
"If anybody ever marries you, it will be for the pleasure of hearing you talk piffle," said Harriet, severely.
"A humiliating reason, but better than no reason at all." (128)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Bev Hankins said...

This is one of my favorites too. I love the scenes with Wimsey and Harriet in prison. Best one for me:

(Harriet Vane) "But, by the way, you're bearing in mind, aren't you, that I've had a lover?"

(Lord Peter) "Oh, yes. So have I, if it comes to that. In fact, several. It's the sort of thing that might happen to anybody. I can produce quite good testimonials. I'm told I make love rather nicely--only I'm at a disadvantage at the moment. One can't be very convincing at the other end of a table with a bloke looking in at the door."

Another of your Vintage Mystery conquests, yes?

Anonymous said...

There is so much to love in this book, right??? Gaudy Night and Busman's Honeymoon are even better though.

Beth said...

Try to find Have His Carcase, which is the next Harriet/Peter book, although skipping straight to Gaudy Nights won't be horrible. The others in between are good too, but again skipping around isn't that bad.