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Strong Poison Paperback – October 16, 2012
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“A model detective story. . . . fascinating.” (New York Times)
“Here is unquestionably a shining star in the mystery story firmament and the best of all the Lord peter Wimsey stories—until the next comes along.” (Saturday Review of Literature)
“The end of this story is as ingenious as any solution could be.” (Times Literary Supplement (London))
From the Publisher
Ian Carmichael is a veteran British actor. His lengthy career includes several portrayals of Lord Peter Wimsey for BBC Television, as well as appearances in other TV series, stage productions, and feature films. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The man died by arsenic poisoning. It could have been self-administered, suicide. But how can this be proven.
As he sat watching the trial, Wimsey falls in love with Harriet, goes to the jail to meet her, and proposes marriage. He promises her that he will find a way to prove her innocence.
Besides being a good mystery with clues, the book is filled with humor. The humor is found in the way people talk and act, all the people in the tale, especially Peter Wimsey. What he does makes sense, but it is eccentrics.
Harriet is the controversial figure in the Lord Peter Wimsey canon. For one thing, it was pretty much accepted in those days that an author didn't marry off their detective creation. For another, Harriet is very difficult to like. She's insecure, prickly, aggressive - one of those "nasty women" referenced in today's awful public environment. As many have said over the years, you either love Harriet, or loathe her.
I don't love Harriet, but I appreciate her. I've always enjoyed Wimsey but in many ways he's a fluff piece. It's not surprising that Sayers, a brilliant academic, got tired of her creation rather quickly. "Strong Poison" is the first book, which introduces Harriet Vane as a convicted murderess, sending Wimsey on a desperate search to find the real killer. "Have His Carcase" is the second, and "Gaudy Night" completed Sayers' romantic trilogy (the marriage and joint detective work of the Wimsey/Vane pair is continued currently by three novels by Jill Paton Walsh).
Harriet is Sayers' Mary Sue. Her character allowed Sayers to construct the ultimate improbable romance: can a lightweight sophisticated aristocrat with a superficial interest in crime and a case of PTSD, find solid ground and a happily-ever-after with a middle-class mystery writer? Harriet, of course, has an Oxford education and can match Wimsey quote for quote, Latin or English.
Keep in mind the cultural times when you're reading this. The 1918 women's voting act in England had strict definitions which disqualified most women (and it would have included Harriet) from being able to vote. Women over 21 who were not householders DID NOT get voting rights in England until 1928. "Strong Poison" was written in 1931 - so Harriet's insistence on establishing her independence is very much in line with how an active, intelligent, educated young woman would have felt at the time.
This is a romantic match made in an intellectual's mind, not in Heaven. Being under a crushing burden of gratitude makes Harriet uneasy and snappish. It's the ending of "Strong Poison" that makes Vane haters froth: instead of falling into WImsey's arms, whether gracefully or reluctantly, Harriet turns him down flat and marches off. Why doesn't she fall in love with him? He saved her! He loves her! He's wealthy! Smart! Well-mannered! Is she CRAZY!?!
No, she's not. She's been burned by one romance and doesn't want to rebound into another. It's so improbable that this top-hatted, monocled Galahad has really fallen in love with her, that she doesn't believe it (and really, it's not believable if you look at it logically). She doesn't want to be the Beggar Maid to Wimsey's King Cophetua. She has something to prove - to herself, not to Wimsey - and by golly, she's going to go do it. Go, Harriet!
"Strong Poison" should not be the first Wimsey novel you read, because if it is you won't appreciate the depth of Sayers' achievement. It's not hard to read the Wimsey novels and stories in chronological order, and I would recommend doing so, but at the very least you should read the four Harriet Vane novels in order. The second of those is "Have His Carcase," the third the satisfying and deeply moving "Gaudy Night," and the fourth, the afterglow, is "Busman's Honeymoon."
If you are new to Dorothy L. Sayers, I envy you. You are in for a lot of pleasure. Enjoy!
However, the characters are interesting and engaging, which made it worth reading, and it sets up for Have His Carcase and Guady Nights, so it is important.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hearing the distinctive voice of each character is much better than listening to the voice of a single reader.Read more