Book Report: The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club
28 May 2004, 1:24 PM
YHB has read The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (NY: Avon 1963), by Dorothy L. Sayers, quite a few times, and I’m not quite sure why. I mean, it’s entertaining and all, but as a mystery, or rather as two mysteries, it’s pretty lame. Of course, I think most of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels are pretty lame as mysteries. If I remember correctly, hardly any have murder methods a sane person would consider (and the murderers are, for the most part, sane enough). Well, one of them doesn’t have a murder, as such; the death is an accident, and a silly, implausible one, at that.
The reason to read Lord Peter stories is not because of the mystery, though. It’s because the reader, like the author, has fallen in love with him. (A manly, Platonic sort of love, not that do-him-in-the-subway sort. Well, for this reader. Actually, I suspect it was a manly sort of love for the author, too, but that’s neither here nor there).
Anyway, Lord Peter isn’t at his best, here. He’s neither the piffling quote-slut hunk of urbanity he can be so amusingly (see Strong Poison), nor the dream husband combination of strength and sensitivity (see Busman’s Honeymoon). He’s urbane, all right, and strong, and sensitive, and all, but not to great effect. He’s the bloodhound, the dog who can’t let a rabbit go, once he’s been set on it. It isn’t him.
I’ll put it back on the shelf, and the next time I read it, probably in early 2006, I’ll have a completely different opinion.