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Have His Carcase (Lord Peter Wimsey) Paperback – October 16, 2012

Book 7 of 14 in the Lord Peter Wimsey Series

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Have His Carcase (Lord Peter Wimsey) + Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey) + Gaudy Night: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery with Harriet Vane
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Editorial Reviews


“A nearly perfect detective story.” (Saturday Review)

“Written with distinction and wit, and is as much as psychological story as an experiment in detection. It has all the excitement which a detective story should offer.” (The Spectator)

“I admire her novels. . . . She has a great fertility of invention, ingenuity and a wonderful eye for detail.” (Ruth Rendell)

From the Back Cover

Mystery novelist Harriet Vane, recovering from an unhappy love affair and its most unpleasant aftermath, seeks solace on a barren beach deserted but for one notable exception: the body of a bearded young man with his throat cut. From the moment she photographs the corpse, which soon disappears with the tide, she is puzzled by a mystery that might easily have been a suicide, a murder, or a political plot. With the appearance of her dear friend Lord Peter Wimsey, however, Harriet finds yet another reason to pursue the mystery, as only the two of them can pursue it.


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Product Details

  • Series: Lord Peter Wimsey
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062196545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062196545
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) was a playwright, scholar, and acclaimed author of mysteries, best known for her books starring the gentleman sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey.

Born in Oxford, England, Sayers, whose father was a reverend, grew up in the Bluntisham rectory and won a scholarship to Oxford University where she studied modern languages and worked at the publishing house Blackwell's, which published her first book of poetry in 1916.

Years later, working as an advertising copywriter, Sayers began work on Whose Body?, a mystery novel featuring dapper detective Lord Peter Wimsey. Over the next two decades, Sayers published ten more Wimsey novels and several short stories, crafting a character whose complexity was unusual for the mystery novels of the time.

In 1936, Sayers brought Lord Peter Wimsey to the stage in a production of Busman's Honeymoon, a story which she would publish as a novel the following year. The play was so successful that she gave up mystery writing to focus on the stage, producing a series of religious works culminating in The Man Born to Be King (1941) a radio drama about the life of Jesus.

She also wrote theological essays and criticism during and after World War II, and in 1949 published the first volume of a translation of Dante's Divine Comedy (which she considered to be her best work).

Dorothy Sayers died of a heart attack in 1957.

Customer Reviews

Another great Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane mystery.
This is a long, complex classic story which turns a lot on times and alibis all of which, of course, are completely misleading.
As always with Sayers' work the secondary characters are well written and engaging, the plot intricately plotted and clever.
Jeanne Tassotto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By C. T. Mikesell on February 6, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The second of Sayers' Wimsey/Vane mysteries, "Have His Carcase" never quite gripped me the way "Strong Poison" did. The earlier mystery placed Harriet Vane in jeopardy should Lord Peter prove unable to exonerate her. In this book there is no such risk-factor, consequently the story is little more than a mental exercise regimen for two not-so-old, not-so-dear friends (although they do get quite a bit better acquainted on this outing). The book is also a few chapters too long (or short, depending on your point of view); "the evidence of the mannequin," for instance, made only a minor contribution to the denouement and could have been eliminated - or it could have been better capitalized upon and drawn in several of the women characters as suspects. The murder plot is definitely overcomplicated and would likely never occur in real life ... unless you wanted to commit a murder that would baffle the police and almost thwart Wimsey and Vane as well (in which case it's *exactly* what you'd do).

For its several shortcomings, "Carcase" is still a very enjoyable read. The verbal sparring between Wimsey and Vane is priceless. Vane's perspective as a mystery novelist adds a bit of behind-the-scenes color. The local police force occasionally comes off a bit too indulgent of the amateur investigators, but it was very nice that they were portrayed as neither blustering know-it-alls nor no-nothing bumpkins. Bunter's quest through London involves some of the best written pacing I've ever read.

A couple final points: The word "carcase" in the title would nowadays be written as "carcass." Before reading the book I thought it had something to do with those large trunks that used to get strapped onto the back of cars.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I recommend this book primarily because it contains Lord Wimsey and Harriet's solution of a Playfair cipher.
Most readers will recall Sherlock Holmes' solution of the Dancing Men cipher (recounted in Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Dancing Men) and Legrand's solution of Captain Kidd's cipher (recounted in Poe's The Gold Bug). Both of these are simple substitution ciphers, easily broken if one knows certain facts about the English language, such as the order of letter frequency (E, T, O, A, N . . .) The Playfair cipher, on the other hand, is an order of magnitude more difficult to solve. It is a digram cipher, using pairs of letters (there are 26x26=676 possible digrams) instead of individual letters to encrypt the message. Tables of digram frequencies are of little use in decrypting short messages. Other methods are required. The mechanics are explained in the text.
The Playfair cipher was used operationally in WWII and to this day remains unsolvable as a one-time, short message, unknown-keyword cipher, unless you can guess one of the plaintext words. Wimsey and Harriet were lucky that they were dealing with an amateur.
Sayer's audacious trump of Conan Doyle and Poe caught my attention. The rest of the book is, to put it mildly, well-plotted. There is evidence here that native British intelligence far exceeds what one finds in the colonies. No wonder Sayers is so popular.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John Austin VINE VOICE on October 3, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
Dorothy L Sayers provided some of the great treasures to be found in the so-called "Golden Age of Detective Fiction". A classical scholar with a formidable intellect, she was an eminent practitioner and an eloquent critic of detective fiction. Her feisty, detective fiction writing character, Harriet Vane, and her aristocratic, monocled, amateur detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, may be found together for the second time in her 1932 novel "Have His Carcase".
On a walking holiday, while recovering from a court case in which she was alleged to have killed her lover, Harriet Vane discovers the body of a man. It is lying on rocks on a beach, close to low tide level. The evidence suggests suicide. After taking photographs with her camera, finding a cut throat razor and removing a shoe from the corpse, Harriet vainly tries to enlist help in moving the body before it is washed away by the incoming tide. The local police force is alerted and so is Lord Peter Wimsey.
This is a long novel. Interest focuses not only on the solution to the mystery but also on the likelihood of Wimsey succeeding with his wish to marry Harriet. There is witty dialogue, there are fulsome reports from a range of eccentric characters, there are descriptions of the human anatomy and how it responds to the throat being cut, there is an interminable attempt to decode a ciphered letter, and there are classical quotations provided at the start of each chapter. There is little dramatic tension, no suspense, and no thrills. Dorothy L Sayers was a cultivated, fluent writer, sometimes boring but never banal.
If your tolerance of boredom is low, but your credit balance at the bank is high, then invest in the audio tape reading of the book provided by Ian Carmichael.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gray on July 28, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
All of Dorothy Sayers' mysteries are worth reading. She has a command of English and a story-telling ability that makes her, in my opinion, one of the two greatest mystery writers of the twentieth century. Most of Ms. Sayers' mysteries feature Lord Peter, second son of the Duke of Denver. He is one of the most delightful characters in English literature and well worth meeting in any of Ms. Sayers books. Most of the Lord Peter mysteries stand alone and can be read without worrying about sequence. However four of the mysteries involve Harriet Vane, and for maximum enjoyment, those four mysteries should be read in order. Strong Poison describes the first meeting between Harriet and Lord Peter. Have His Carcase explores the relationship between the two of them as they investigate the death of a man whose body Harriet discovers while hiking along a deserted beach. The interaction between the two of them can best be understood and appreciated if Strong Poison is read first. Have His Carcase may be the least enjoyable of the four romance-mysteries involving Harriet, but this book leads to the final two books in the series, and those two books are the finest romance-mysteries ever written.
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