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Book Report: Busman's Honeymoon

Looking for something simple and comforting, I picked up Busman’s Honeymoon. And it was. I’ve been down on Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries in this Tohu Bohu—not so much the books as the mysteries—and this one also is preposterous as a mystery. I mean, if you find it plausible that Frank Crutchley, the garage mechanic-cum-gardener, had the idea of loading the hanging cactus pot with lead shot and switching the chain, and then setting it up as a deadly pendulum on a fishing-line pulley kept tense by the lid of a radio placed just so, then, well, good for you, and there’s nothing to be annoyed about with the plot of the book. Except, I suppose, the idea that having done all of that, he would not only hang around and draw attention to himself but try to borrow forty pounds from the world-famous detective that currently lives in the house of the murder victim.

But the point is that the novel isn’t properly speaking a detective story at all, but a love story with detective interruptions. It’s a very sweet (if extremely dated and bizarre) story of a newlywed couple, middle-aged and experienced, finding their married selves under the strain of everyday life magnified by a murder mystery.

YHB read the Wimsey-Vane books at an impressionable age, and I think I was irreparably harmed by them. My fascination with persistently wooing a woman who was determined not to get into a relationship made two or three young women unhappy for some time, back when I was young and irresponsible. Not that I stalked them as such, but, um, what I did wasn’t substantially better than stalking. Further, the idea (portrayed in Busman’s Honeymoon) that the ideal mature relationship between intelligent people would naturally include massive quantities of self-absorbed blathering about that ideal mature relationship between intelligent people never quite made its way out of my system. Further yet, taking Lord Peter as my romantic role model didn’t do much to dampen my natural arrogance, or my sense that a good, serious, respectful discussion with my loved one would naturally end with, you know, her agreeing with me.

Still, there were some good things about being keen on Wimsey-Vane. It is, after all, a romance where the couple place their intellectual and moral selves above their carnal pleasures, without denying the reality of those carnal pleasures. It’s a romance that emphasizes that romance is damned hard work, and a lot of fun, too. And it’s a romance between two people who learn that caring for each other means caring for themselves and for other people, too. And it’s a romance between two people who can figure out six ways to get into a locked room, so that’s all right, d’y’see?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,