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Customer Review

on December 16, 2000
This is one of my three favorite Lord Peter Wimsey novels (the other two are The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club and Murder Must Advertise), and unless you plan to read the entire series (in which case you should start with Unnatural Death), it's the best introduction to Wimsey and his world, as it revolves around his brother Gerald, the Duke of Denver, being accused of murdering their sister Mary's fiance. It also features Wimsey's friend Chief Inspector Parker, as well as introducing several recurring characters.
Unlike Unnatural Death, where Wimsey seems more devil-may-care and speaks in more slang-y sentences, this book shows a more mature Wimsey who's fully aware of his duties to his family and the responsibilities of his position in life (an occasional theme in the series), and we see that Wimsey is far from being merely a man about London.
The mystery itself is one of the more clever ones in the series, revolving around holes in Gerald's testimony which Wimsey must investigate, as well as the background of the murder victim, although the final resolution seems not to completely justify the build-up. (This is common in Sayers' mysteries; the setting and characters tend to be stronger than the puzzle driving the plot.) Overall, though, it's an entertaining book, featuring more moments of dramatic suspense than in the later novels, making it perhaps the most well-rounded Wimsey adventure.
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