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She is lovely, smart, and talented—and only Lord Peter can save her from the gallows

Lord Peter Wimsey comes to the trial of Harriet Vane for a glimpse at one of the most engaging murder cases London has seen in years. Unfortunately for the detective, the crime’s details are distractingly salacious, and there is little doubt that the woman will be found guilty. A slightly popular mystery novelist, she stands accused of poisoning her fiancé, a literary author and well-known advocate of free love. Over the course of a few weeks, she bought strychnine, prussic acid, and arsenic, and when her lover died the police found enough poison in his veins to kill a horse. But as Lord Peter watches Harriet in the dock, he begins to doubt her guilt—and to fall in love.
 
As Harriet awaits the hangman, Lord Peter races to prove her innocence, hoping that for the 1st time in his life, love will triumph over death.
 
Strong Poison is the 6th book in the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, but you may enjoy the series by reading the books in any order.
 
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dorothy L. Sayers including rare images from the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College.

Topics: Murder, London, Love, England, Family, Suspenseful, Crime, Female Author, British Author, 20th Century, Inheritance, Romantic, Wry, 1930s, Writers, Series, and Breakups

Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on Jul 31, 2012
ISBN: 9781453258897
List price: $9.99
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Sayers, Dorothy L. Strong Poison. New York: HarperPaperbacks, 1995.Lord Peter Wimsey is at it again. Only this time in addition to solving the mystery he's looking to fill his personal void. He wants a wife. While his methods are a bit strange (he proposes to a virtual stranger, someone he is trying to prove isn't a murderer) you can't help but love his enthusiasm. Harriet Vane is a mystery writer who just happens to know a thing or two about poison so when her estranged fiancee shows up dead...poisoned...guess who gets the blame? For all appearances this is an open and shut case. She had the motive and the means but Lord Wimsey thinks differently. Her first trial is thrown out due to a deadlocked jury so Wimsey has time to rebuild Harriet's defense...and propose with the promise "I've been told I make love rather nicely" (p 46).read more
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Strong Poison is the first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery that features Harriet Vane. When Harriet Vane, a mystery writer, goes on trial for the murder of her lover, who is also an author, Lord Peter sets out to exonerate her—falling in love with her as he does so.Harriet is less developed as a character, of course, than Lord Peter is—but you can see a lot of promise with her and her relationship with Lord Peter. She’s headstrong, feisty and unconventional, and her conversations with Wimsey are some of the better parts of the book. You can tell that she’s quite a mental match for him; and the comparisons between Harriet and Sayers are very clear. Previously, we’ve seen Wimsey as stoic and a bit arrogant, and it’s nice to see some romance come into his life, and see him brought down a notch.The plot is a bit predictable, and you can tell who the real murderer is from a mile away. It’s similar to Unnatural Death in that various characters stand to gain a lot of money by the death of the victim, but that the recipient of the money would have gained it anyways, murder or not; and Peter and his confederates spend the bulk of the book trying to prove otherwise. The “whodunit” isn’t quite as important as the “whydunit.” However, I’d say that in this book the mystery takes a back seat to the budding relationship between Harriet and Peter. In addition, Miss Climpson is a recurring character that I enjoy seeing over and over again—here, she’s got her own agency of superfluous women who perform various investigative services for Lord Peter.read more
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Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers is one of my favorite books in this series. A woman is on trial for poisoning her lover. The evidence points, overwhelmingly, to her guilt -- but Lord Peter is convinced that she is innocent. In fact, he takes a rather personal interest in this particular case. . . .This book introduces a character who plays a significant role in future books, and also advances certain through-running plot lines. The dialogue is excellent, even better than in the earlier books, and a few lines had me nearly rolling with laughter (there's a conversation between Lord Peter and his sister concerning pajamas that is particularly noteworthy). I reread this book more recently than most of the others, so had some vague memories about the solution to the crime, but this is one of those rare detective novels that bears rereading even without that element of surprise.read more
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This was a fast, fun, literate, entertaining read. The premise is simple: mystery novelist Harriet Vane is on trial for the murder of her ex-significant other, and Peter Wimsey is determined to prove that she didn't do it, and then marry her. Wimsey and his supporting cast are eminently likable, and the mystery is puzzler, with Sayers nicely managing the pace of dropping clues. I can see why Harriet Vane is a popular character, although in this book she is more of an ideal than a real person. And the glimpses of intra-war England are worth the price of admission alone. The biggest weaknesses are the string of coincidences that ultimately allow Peter to solve the crime and unveil the true murderer. The final piece of the "how he did it" puzzle felt a bit trite, but it may well be that is because so many other authors and screenwriters have copied an idea of Sayers' that was quite original back in 1930. And I must admit that I had a hard time buying Peter's "love at first sight" infatuation with Vane. The romance would have been more believable if it had evolved as he had gotten to know her at least a little bit. All in all, though, highly recommended.read more
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Love is in the air for the Lord Peter Wimsey clan. That might be the strong poison as far as his noble line is concerned; or it could just be greed as usual. Harriet Vane is introduced, mystery writer, free love advocate, accused murderer, and with her come the Lord Peter Wimsey Cattery, a clan of women sleuths disguised as "other" women -- older, spinster, neglected invisible women. This is the best LPW yet. I hope the rest of the Harriet Vanes live up to it.read more
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The Book Report: Lord Peter Wimsey, younger brother of the Duke of Denver, bibliophile, and dilettante in the arts and sciences of murder, meets his One True Love, the Other Half of His Soul; where else would he do this, but in court? Too bad she's the accused in a rather sensational murder trial, in which she is accused and about to be convicted of poisoning by arsenic her Illicit Lover, now ex- after having the *temerity* to propose honorable and legal marriage to her. He was, it turns out, having her on when he refused to countenance the idea of marriage; he was counting on his Peculiar Charms to sway his Muse and fellow novelist into revealing her true depths of devotion to him by setting this test. Having fallen (and Fallen) for it, Harriet felt (not at all unreasonably) that she'd been a right prat and, in umbrage extreme, slung the rotter out on his ear, refusing thereafter to treat his suit. Subsequent to their final meeting, unluckily, the rotter collapses and dies at his cousin's home, where he's been living for over a year since the end of the dream.Lord Peter, attending the trial (as who would not?) with the Hon. Freddy and the Dowager Duchess of Denver (aka Mater), forms the simultaneous convictions that Harriet is innocent, and that she shall be Lady Wimsey as soon as the event can be fixed. How to forestall the hangman's deft attentions is his sole focus, needless to say, and he goes about proving the identity of the real culprit with his accustomed panache, energy, and cunning.Ah, but stay the strain's of the Wedding March, dear readers, because Harriet...quite sensibly...is Once Bitten, Twice Shy re: matrimony. She offers herself as his leman, his dolly-bird, his bit o' stuff, but marriage? To a well-known aristocrat, with all the attendant hoo and pla? No, indeed. Wimsey is, well, not to fobbed off with mere sex when what he craves is glory and delight everlasting in matrimony golden, so he ankles off as soon as he sees her acquitted. The End. Only, of course, not so much. But that's another book.My Review: A Certain Party, who shall remain nameless herein but is frequently addressed by me as "Horrible" and is known on LibraryThing as "karenmarie", has really, really put her foot in it this time. I mention, oh so casually in passing, that long, long ago I read and disliked this book. "Oh," burbles The Evil One, "I read that and found it both witty and amusing, don't you think it would be fun to re-read it?" I, ever the innocent and naive victim, forgot that the aforementioned Evil One has hooked me on ever-so many mystery series with her offhand cruelty, fell for it and re-read the book. Reader, beware! NEVER VENTURE NEAR HER! You'll end up reading long lists of (admittedly quite good) mysteries.Wimsey is certainly not for every taste. His erudition, not notably fine for that era, is huge by modern standards, and so his references to poets, writers, and cultural furniture quite ordinary in the 1930s, will come across as condescending to thos of this less well-versed (!) time and place. His general attitude of privilege might cause some sensitive souls in the era of Political Correctness to flinch. And Sayers' lovely, steady, and quite dry prose will go down like a martini at a Salvation Army bash with the modern reader accustomed to gutter talk, explosions, gunshots, and generally seamy turpitude that passes for most modern mysteries.And thank GOD for that. It's a breath of chamomile-scented mountain meadow air to me to re-find these books in a state and at a time when I can appreciate them. No one tell The Evil One, blast her eyes, that I am thoroughly glad to have read this book at 51 that I understood and so little of at 25. Loose lips sink ships!read more
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As with all of Dorothy Sayers mysteries, this has been a book of enduring interest and popularity. It is the characters, of course, that turn her books into classics of the genre. The sensitive, intelligent and reflective Lord Peter Wimsey who was so badly damaged by the war. His man, Bunter, who served him in the war as a Sgt. and now serves him in peace competently and loyally. His love interest, Harriet Vane, for whom he labors diligently to acquit of murder charges. And his mother, the Dowager Duchess, who with her feisty cat, Ahaseurus, adds humor and warmth to all the books. Although a little off-putting with "By-joves," and "Right-hos", this book and others in the series will no doubt be of interest for years to come.read more
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This may be one of my favorite Lord Peter mysteries. Not only is it rather delightful to see Lord Peter made vulnerable by love, the murder itself is fiendishly clever. I was completely stumped as to the method, and when it was finally revealed I shouted in delight and had to run and tell Dave (my partner) all about how it was done. I'm afraid he was probably not as fascinated as I was...I think I read a review somewhere that mentioned that Harriet Vane is something of a Mary Sue, which may be true -- it's hard not to wonder when the object of Lord Peter's affection is an unconventionally attractive, witty writer of mysteries. I've always felt that Sayers had a bit of a crush on Lord Peter, after all. But then, can you blame her? We don't get to know Miss Vane very well in this mystery, because she spends most of the time in jail falsely accused, but I found that Lord Peter's admiration rubbed off on me, and I was personally rather delighted with her blunt refusal of Lord Peter's repeated proposals of marriage.read more
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Good fun as usual. The love story subplot was mildly entertaining, but fairly minor. The primary mystery was interesting and wrapped up nicely - and the Spiritualist/medium interlude was hilarious and brillant.read more
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This is the transitional book, the book where Lord Peter Wimsey falls in love, where the characters become more rounded and the novel is almost more important than the puzzle. There is also the delightful set piece of spiritualist charlatanism in the cause of good that would stand on its own as a short story starring Miss Climpson. A favourite well worth revisiting.read more
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Dorothy Sayers writes a good mystery, with entertaining characters and wit. Lord Peter Wimsey, watching the trial of Harriet Vane, becomes convinced that he will marry her, despite her being accused of poisoning a lover with arsenic. He has a month to find the real murderer, and the means. The background is England in the late 1920's, and the witty interplay and remarks on the bohemian culture of the time are exquisite. The villain is too predictable, howeverread more
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Strong Poison is not one of Sayer's best. Ingenious solution to the puzzle but Wimsey is almost Bertie Wooster on crime.read more
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I found a first edition hard copy of this in London, and it's a shame the cover is not available (unless I scan the bally thing). It's the two-penny-ha'penny "cheap" hardcover and in an obnoxious orange colour. Brilliant. I never get tired of reading and re-reading this. Really, though - "as my whimsy takes me?"read more
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I have long loved the novels of Dorothy L Sayers, in particular those featuring Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. I haven't re-read them for a while, though. So discovering them on audiobook has been very exciting. I have just finished listening to the audiobook of Strong Poison, which was wonderful, and will be starting on Have His Carcase soon. I had forgotten how much humour there is in Strong Poison, and it's not just Lord Peter's wit. Ms Climpson's and Ms Murchison's investigations are a hoot!read more
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The first of Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries to include Harriet Vane; in this one, she stands accused for murder. I have yet to be disappointed by Sayers. As an aside, there are excellent radio-drama BBC adaptations of most of these.read more
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Superb mystery with lively characters and witty dialogue, Agatha Christie meets P.G. Wodehouseread more
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What fun! Fast-paced detective novel, loved the rolls of the women! Especially notable: The Cattery, what a cool place. I enjoyed the women, and I enjoyed Lord Wimsey because HE enjoyed the women. Interesting portrayal of life in Great Britian among the upper class in the early 20th century, too.read more
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Where I got the book: my bookshelf.Lord Peter Wimsey's latest case has high stakes. He's fallen in love with the accused, novelist Harriet Vane, and has one month to save her from hanging for the death of her former lover, Philip Boyes. Boyes was poisoned with arsenic, the method Harriet used in her latest novel; and who else would want to kill a young man of dubious talent and no wealth?As my bookfriends have reminded me, Sayers used this novel to work out some of her own relationship issues with an ex-boyfriend, the writer John Cournos. He had pressured her to sleep with him and she'd refused; after their breakup, she had a rebound affair that resulted in a secret illegitimate child, thus proving her point. In Strong Poison Sayers has Harriet live "in sin" with Boyes and then break up with him when he proposes marriage, on the principle that he made a fool of her by propounding free love and then going all traditional after she'd given in. Wimsey, of course, is not in the least bit perturbed by Harriet's past (having sown his own wild oats fairly liberally) and proposes at their first meeting. I remember reading that Sayers intended to end the book with Harriet and Peter falling into each other's arms, and then realized that this would be completely wrong for the character she'd written. It takes another two books and five years of the characters' lives to get to yes.As far as the mystery goes, this is fairly standard stuff, based almost entirely on motive (thus, I believe, breaking Wimsey's own rule that when you know how, you know who--the how only gets worked out at the last minute). The charm of this book lies in seeing the characters break out into so much human fallibility. Love is in the air all over the place, and Charles Parker and Freddy Arbuthnot also get in on the romance act.The charm of Sayers' books is their sheer readagainability, if I may put it that way. I notice that nearly all the reviewers have read the book before. It's literary comfort food, still fresh and satisfying despite its age, and even though I'd read it several times before I had a hard time putting it down. Hence the five stars despite my realization that there is an enormous, clanging inconsistency in the story, and it is this. Miss Climpson, brought in once again to go into the female world where Wimsey cannot easily achieve a sufficient degree of inconspicuousness, behaves as if she knows nothing about the case she is investigating. And yet this is the very same Miss Climpson who was on the jury at the Vane trial and thus knows every detail. Yes, the very same Miss Climpson, despite her name changing from Alexandra (in Unnatural Death) to Katherine (amusingly, one time, Katherine Alexandra as if Sayers knew she'd got something wrong but couldn't be bothered to check). I'm trying to remember if Miss C appears at all in subsequent books - I have the feeling that she fades away after this one, leaving Wimsey all the investigative glory.read more
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You would think that having read Strong Poison once, listened to the Ian Carmichael audiobook, and watched the Edward Petherbridge tv adaptation twice, I wouldn't be still at the point of giggling every few pages or staying up all night to finish it. You'd definitely be wrong.

It's so good coming back to these characters and learning more about them, and having the fondness about them, and not having my mind occupied with trying to figure out the mystery. Miss Murchison! Miss Climpson! Bunter! Parker! The whole Victorian asking of intentions bit!

I think one of my favourite moments, oddly, was the moment in which Peter is thinking crossly about suicides and how they should leave a note, just to avoid all the mess. And he thinks about how he should do it, not in terms of "if", but in terms of "when". Such a chillingly telling moment, and dropped in at the end of a chapter, and never returned to -- how typical of Peter's character, for something so serious to be only glanced across. And it's one of those moments that you see Peter very clearly as more than a silly ass, instead of just having to take that on faith. I don't know if I'm explaining it very well -- and this is an extraordinary amount of my review to devote to what was really a tiny detail -- but the moment really caught my attention.

So yes. Still toe-curlingly squee worthy, even on a fifth go at the plot.read more
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The novel in which Harriet Vane is introduced and Miss Climpson is bowed out. It was a difficult book to write since it, unlike previous books, strayed into the territory of the romance novel. Lord Peter has to be made sexy somehow and is, in unfortunate paragraph, described as imperious. At least no bodices were ripped.Miss Climpson, who was introduced in Unnatural Death, has most of the best dialogue. Unfortunately, while her campaign to discover the will is ingeniously conducted, it is difficult to believe in the extraordinary spiritualist beliefs of the nurse whom she deceives.Norman Urqhart's improbably lengthy description of the career of Cremorna Gardens' various relative over the breakfast table suggests that Sayer's just didn't want to be bothered to write dialogue.Sayers is occasionally quite poetic, as when she describes Lord Peter's realization that he is growing older and less carefree.Her satire of Bohemian London _is_ funny, but so broad that it is not as funny as some of her other efforts.read more
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Next on my list is Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers. This was another super-cheap booksale impulse buy. I had seen reviews on LT of her works and decided it was worth trying one. This is a Lord Peter Wimsey murder mystery, somewhere in the middle of the series. I believe this is set in the late 1920s.The book opens with Harriet Vane on trial for poisoning her ex-lover with arsenic, just before the jury is sequestered for a verdict, with the judge summing up the case. Harriet Vane is a moderately successful murder mystery author who recently researched arsenic poisoning for her latest novel. Lord Peter Wimsey apparently attended the trial and fell in love with the defendant and has decided to find the real murderer. He already has a reputation as a highly successful amateur sleuth with connections to Scotland Yard, not to mention great personal wealth and family connections as the brother of a duke.The actual murderer was not difficult to figure out early on. The plot was not particularly complicated or subtle. This is very much a character-driven series. I must say that Peter's dialogue is quite odd, eccentric, idiosyncratic, full of literary allusions and period slang. It is worth reading the books, perhaps, just to hear him speak. Particularly amusing was his reference to Jeeves (as in P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster) when admonishing his valet, Bunker.The other interesting item was the treatment of women. While Sayers's protagonist is male, many of the pivotal clues are discovered by his female allies/employees. In effect, he has created a detective agency employing strictly women (fondly called "The Cattery"), which allows him to inveigle someone into suspicious households and businesses in the guise of domestic servants, clerical employees, and so on to gather the important clues and evidence. This works because women are so often invisible, downtrodden, and otherwise suffer under the oppressive society that provides them so few opportunities to exist outside of marriage and well-to-do families. Many of the women employed by the agency would be destitute without this rare and discreet job opportunity. Hence they are certainly loyal to Lord Peter and very dedicated in their work. Regardless of its effectiveness as a plot device, it provides an interesting perspective on the society of the day. None of the characters is particularly deep, but they are individuals.So I may try other books from the library, but I'm not interested enough to add this series to my own collections. I'll be giving this copy away. It was enjoyable enough, worth the read, but not a keeper for me.read more
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The first in the trilogy of the love of Lord Peter Wimsey. A very good book with an excellent mystery. I adore the debate Miss Climpson has with herself on whether or not to fake Spiritualism to get the evidence she needs in the case. Also watching Wimsey as he falls in love. The resolution of the case is also very satisfactory.read more
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Our first introduction to Harriet Vane and one of the great romances of cozy detection. I know that many people now see Peter Wimsey as a foppish caricature but this is not my perception. Here he is the romantic hero of a quest for the fair lady with the looming deadline of Harriet's retrial setting a clear boundary to his investigation. In practice, the murderer can be deduced early in the novel, so it becomes a whydoit and a howdunnit until the end.Written in the late 1920s about contemporary England, the book is filled with social commentary explored from various angles by using the viewpoints of several characters. Harriet's circumstances having been shaped significantly by the changing role of women. Modernism and spiritualism are mocked trenchantly in sharp aphorisms.Most whodunnits do not bear rereading but Sayers' sharp with and incisive observation provide continuing rewards.read more
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This was the first Peter Wimsey mystery that I didn't find totally satisfying. I had really high hopes; I couldn't wait to find out how Peter and Harriet met, and why Peter fell in love with her.

It starts off promisingly enough - the judge is summarizing the case against Harriet for the jury, who are about to start their deliberations. It's a pretty strong case; Harriet's former lover died of arsenic poisoning, and Harriet had been buying arsenic for research purposes.

Now, first of all, it was really easy to figure out who the real murderer was. Normally Sayers keeps me guessing much longer than she did here.

Second of all, Peter does almost nothing from beginning to end. Miss Climpson and her staff do all the actual detecting - Peter mostly flops around feeling a little useless because love for Harriet has impaired his judgement.

Third of all, Peter is already in love with Harriet as the book begins. Not only do we not see him actually falling in love, the first thing he ever says to her is to ask her to marry him. This is romantic and all, but what makes Peter and Harriet's relationship so magical to me, at least, is their repartee - they're so well matched in wit, sensibility, and principle. I thought something more mature than love at first sight would bring them together.

There's a little bit of a twist - but I guessed it around the same time as I guessed the murderer, which is to say pretty early on.

I still enjoyed Strong Poison, quite a bit, but Sayers has done better.read more
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By now you will have surmised that I got a load of Sayers books in 2006 and had at them. True.

This one is the first one with Sayers' authorial insertion character, Harriet Vane, which works out a lot better than you might expect. Sayers is quite realistic about herself, it's Wimsey she puts on a ludicrous pedestal.

Reread in August 2011.read more
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Sayers, Dorothy L. Strong Poison. New York: HarperPaperbacks, 1995.Lord Peter Wimsey is at it again. Only this time in addition to solving the mystery he's looking to fill his personal void. He wants a wife. While his methods are a bit strange (he proposes to a virtual stranger, someone he is trying to prove isn't a murderer) you can't help but love his enthusiasm. Harriet Vane is a mystery writer who just happens to know a thing or two about poison so when her estranged fiancee shows up dead...poisoned...guess who gets the blame? For all appearances this is an open and shut case. She had the motive and the means but Lord Wimsey thinks differently. Her first trial is thrown out due to a deadlocked jury so Wimsey has time to rebuild Harriet's defense...and propose with the promise "I've been told I make love rather nicely" (p 46).
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Strong Poison is the first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery that features Harriet Vane. When Harriet Vane, a mystery writer, goes on trial for the murder of her lover, who is also an author, Lord Peter sets out to exonerate her—falling in love with her as he does so.Harriet is less developed as a character, of course, than Lord Peter is—but you can see a lot of promise with her and her relationship with Lord Peter. She’s headstrong, feisty and unconventional, and her conversations with Wimsey are some of the better parts of the book. You can tell that she’s quite a mental match for him; and the comparisons between Harriet and Sayers are very clear. Previously, we’ve seen Wimsey as stoic and a bit arrogant, and it’s nice to see some romance come into his life, and see him brought down a notch.The plot is a bit predictable, and you can tell who the real murderer is from a mile away. It’s similar to Unnatural Death in that various characters stand to gain a lot of money by the death of the victim, but that the recipient of the money would have gained it anyways, murder or not; and Peter and his confederates spend the bulk of the book trying to prove otherwise. The “whodunit” isn’t quite as important as the “whydunit.” However, I’d say that in this book the mystery takes a back seat to the budding relationship between Harriet and Peter. In addition, Miss Climpson is a recurring character that I enjoy seeing over and over again—here, she’s got her own agency of superfluous women who perform various investigative services for Lord Peter.
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Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers is one of my favorite books in this series. A woman is on trial for poisoning her lover. The evidence points, overwhelmingly, to her guilt -- but Lord Peter is convinced that she is innocent. In fact, he takes a rather personal interest in this particular case. . . .This book introduces a character who plays a significant role in future books, and also advances certain through-running plot lines. The dialogue is excellent, even better than in the earlier books, and a few lines had me nearly rolling with laughter (there's a conversation between Lord Peter and his sister concerning pajamas that is particularly noteworthy). I reread this book more recently than most of the others, so had some vague memories about the solution to the crime, but this is one of those rare detective novels that bears rereading even without that element of surprise.
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This was a fast, fun, literate, entertaining read. The premise is simple: mystery novelist Harriet Vane is on trial for the murder of her ex-significant other, and Peter Wimsey is determined to prove that she didn't do it, and then marry her. Wimsey and his supporting cast are eminently likable, and the mystery is puzzler, with Sayers nicely managing the pace of dropping clues. I can see why Harriet Vane is a popular character, although in this book she is more of an ideal than a real person. And the glimpses of intra-war England are worth the price of admission alone. The biggest weaknesses are the string of coincidences that ultimately allow Peter to solve the crime and unveil the true murderer. The final piece of the "how he did it" puzzle felt a bit trite, but it may well be that is because so many other authors and screenwriters have copied an idea of Sayers' that was quite original back in 1930. And I must admit that I had a hard time buying Peter's "love at first sight" infatuation with Vane. The romance would have been more believable if it had evolved as he had gotten to know her at least a little bit. All in all, though, highly recommended.
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Love is in the air for the Lord Peter Wimsey clan. That might be the strong poison as far as his noble line is concerned; or it could just be greed as usual. Harriet Vane is introduced, mystery writer, free love advocate, accused murderer, and with her come the Lord Peter Wimsey Cattery, a clan of women sleuths disguised as "other" women -- older, spinster, neglected invisible women. This is the best LPW yet. I hope the rest of the Harriet Vanes live up to it.
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The Book Report: Lord Peter Wimsey, younger brother of the Duke of Denver, bibliophile, and dilettante in the arts and sciences of murder, meets his One True Love, the Other Half of His Soul; where else would he do this, but in court? Too bad she's the accused in a rather sensational murder trial, in which she is accused and about to be convicted of poisoning by arsenic her Illicit Lover, now ex- after having the *temerity* to propose honorable and legal marriage to her. He was, it turns out, having her on when he refused to countenance the idea of marriage; he was counting on his Peculiar Charms to sway his Muse and fellow novelist into revealing her true depths of devotion to him by setting this test. Having fallen (and Fallen) for it, Harriet felt (not at all unreasonably) that she'd been a right prat and, in umbrage extreme, slung the rotter out on his ear, refusing thereafter to treat his suit. Subsequent to their final meeting, unluckily, the rotter collapses and dies at his cousin's home, where he's been living for over a year since the end of the dream.Lord Peter, attending the trial (as who would not?) with the Hon. Freddy and the Dowager Duchess of Denver (aka Mater), forms the simultaneous convictions that Harriet is innocent, and that she shall be Lady Wimsey as soon as the event can be fixed. How to forestall the hangman's deft attentions is his sole focus, needless to say, and he goes about proving the identity of the real culprit with his accustomed panache, energy, and cunning.Ah, but stay the strain's of the Wedding March, dear readers, because Harriet...quite sensibly...is Once Bitten, Twice Shy re: matrimony. She offers herself as his leman, his dolly-bird, his bit o' stuff, but marriage? To a well-known aristocrat, with all the attendant hoo and pla? No, indeed. Wimsey is, well, not to fobbed off with mere sex when what he craves is glory and delight everlasting in matrimony golden, so he ankles off as soon as he sees her acquitted. The End. Only, of course, not so much. But that's another book.My Review: A Certain Party, who shall remain nameless herein but is frequently addressed by me as "Horrible" and is known on LibraryThing as "karenmarie", has really, really put her foot in it this time. I mention, oh so casually in passing, that long, long ago I read and disliked this book. "Oh," burbles The Evil One, "I read that and found it both witty and amusing, don't you think it would be fun to re-read it?" I, ever the innocent and naive victim, forgot that the aforementioned Evil One has hooked me on ever-so many mystery series with her offhand cruelty, fell for it and re-read the book. Reader, beware! NEVER VENTURE NEAR HER! You'll end up reading long lists of (admittedly quite good) mysteries.Wimsey is certainly not for every taste. His erudition, not notably fine for that era, is huge by modern standards, and so his references to poets, writers, and cultural furniture quite ordinary in the 1930s, will come across as condescending to thos of this less well-versed (!) time and place. His general attitude of privilege might cause some sensitive souls in the era of Political Correctness to flinch. And Sayers' lovely, steady, and quite dry prose will go down like a martini at a Salvation Army bash with the modern reader accustomed to gutter talk, explosions, gunshots, and generally seamy turpitude that passes for most modern mysteries.And thank GOD for that. It's a breath of chamomile-scented mountain meadow air to me to re-find these books in a state and at a time when I can appreciate them. No one tell The Evil One, blast her eyes, that I am thoroughly glad to have read this book at 51 that I understood and so little of at 25. Loose lips sink ships!
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As with all of Dorothy Sayers mysteries, this has been a book of enduring interest and popularity. It is the characters, of course, that turn her books into classics of the genre. The sensitive, intelligent and reflective Lord Peter Wimsey who was so badly damaged by the war. His man, Bunter, who served him in the war as a Sgt. and now serves him in peace competently and loyally. His love interest, Harriet Vane, for whom he labors diligently to acquit of murder charges. And his mother, the Dowager Duchess, who with her feisty cat, Ahaseurus, adds humor and warmth to all the books. Although a little off-putting with "By-joves," and "Right-hos", this book and others in the series will no doubt be of interest for years to come.
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This may be one of my favorite Lord Peter mysteries. Not only is it rather delightful to see Lord Peter made vulnerable by love, the murder itself is fiendishly clever. I was completely stumped as to the method, and when it was finally revealed I shouted in delight and had to run and tell Dave (my partner) all about how it was done. I'm afraid he was probably not as fascinated as I was...I think I read a review somewhere that mentioned that Harriet Vane is something of a Mary Sue, which may be true -- it's hard not to wonder when the object of Lord Peter's affection is an unconventionally attractive, witty writer of mysteries. I've always felt that Sayers had a bit of a crush on Lord Peter, after all. But then, can you blame her? We don't get to know Miss Vane very well in this mystery, because she spends most of the time in jail falsely accused, but I found that Lord Peter's admiration rubbed off on me, and I was personally rather delighted with her blunt refusal of Lord Peter's repeated proposals of marriage.
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Good fun as usual. The love story subplot was mildly entertaining, but fairly minor. The primary mystery was interesting and wrapped up nicely - and the Spiritualist/medium interlude was hilarious and brillant.
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This is the transitional book, the book where Lord Peter Wimsey falls in love, where the characters become more rounded and the novel is almost more important than the puzzle. There is also the delightful set piece of spiritualist charlatanism in the cause of good that would stand on its own as a short story starring Miss Climpson. A favourite well worth revisiting.
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Dorothy Sayers writes a good mystery, with entertaining characters and wit. Lord Peter Wimsey, watching the trial of Harriet Vane, becomes convinced that he will marry her, despite her being accused of poisoning a lover with arsenic. He has a month to find the real murderer, and the means. The background is England in the late 1920's, and the witty interplay and remarks on the bohemian culture of the time are exquisite. The villain is too predictable, however
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Strong Poison is not one of Sayer's best. Ingenious solution to the puzzle but Wimsey is almost Bertie Wooster on crime.
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I found a first edition hard copy of this in London, and it's a shame the cover is not available (unless I scan the bally thing). It's the two-penny-ha'penny "cheap" hardcover and in an obnoxious orange colour. Brilliant. I never get tired of reading and re-reading this. Really, though - "as my whimsy takes me?"
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I have long loved the novels of Dorothy L Sayers, in particular those featuring Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. I haven't re-read them for a while, though. So discovering them on audiobook has been very exciting. I have just finished listening to the audiobook of Strong Poison, which was wonderful, and will be starting on Have His Carcase soon. I had forgotten how much humour there is in Strong Poison, and it's not just Lord Peter's wit. Ms Climpson's and Ms Murchison's investigations are a hoot!
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The first of Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries to include Harriet Vane; in this one, she stands accused for murder. I have yet to be disappointed by Sayers. As an aside, there are excellent radio-drama BBC adaptations of most of these.
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Superb mystery with lively characters and witty dialogue, Agatha Christie meets P.G. Wodehouse
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What fun! Fast-paced detective novel, loved the rolls of the women! Especially notable: The Cattery, what a cool place. I enjoyed the women, and I enjoyed Lord Wimsey because HE enjoyed the women. Interesting portrayal of life in Great Britian among the upper class in the early 20th century, too.
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Where I got the book: my bookshelf.Lord Peter Wimsey's latest case has high stakes. He's fallen in love with the accused, novelist Harriet Vane, and has one month to save her from hanging for the death of her former lover, Philip Boyes. Boyes was poisoned with arsenic, the method Harriet used in her latest novel; and who else would want to kill a young man of dubious talent and no wealth?As my bookfriends have reminded me, Sayers used this novel to work out some of her own relationship issues with an ex-boyfriend, the writer John Cournos. He had pressured her to sleep with him and she'd refused; after their breakup, she had a rebound affair that resulted in a secret illegitimate child, thus proving her point. In Strong Poison Sayers has Harriet live "in sin" with Boyes and then break up with him when he proposes marriage, on the principle that he made a fool of her by propounding free love and then going all traditional after she'd given in. Wimsey, of course, is not in the least bit perturbed by Harriet's past (having sown his own wild oats fairly liberally) and proposes at their first meeting. I remember reading that Sayers intended to end the book with Harriet and Peter falling into each other's arms, and then realized that this would be completely wrong for the character she'd written. It takes another two books and five years of the characters' lives to get to yes.As far as the mystery goes, this is fairly standard stuff, based almost entirely on motive (thus, I believe, breaking Wimsey's own rule that when you know how, you know who--the how only gets worked out at the last minute). The charm of this book lies in seeing the characters break out into so much human fallibility. Love is in the air all over the place, and Charles Parker and Freddy Arbuthnot also get in on the romance act.The charm of Sayers' books is their sheer readagainability, if I may put it that way. I notice that nearly all the reviewers have read the book before. It's literary comfort food, still fresh and satisfying despite its age, and even though I'd read it several times before I had a hard time putting it down. Hence the five stars despite my realization that there is an enormous, clanging inconsistency in the story, and it is this. Miss Climpson, brought in once again to go into the female world where Wimsey cannot easily achieve a sufficient degree of inconspicuousness, behaves as if she knows nothing about the case she is investigating. And yet this is the very same Miss Climpson who was on the jury at the Vane trial and thus knows every detail. Yes, the very same Miss Climpson, despite her name changing from Alexandra (in Unnatural Death) to Katherine (amusingly, one time, Katherine Alexandra as if Sayers knew she'd got something wrong but couldn't be bothered to check). I'm trying to remember if Miss C appears at all in subsequent books - I have the feeling that she fades away after this one, leaving Wimsey all the investigative glory.
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You would think that having read Strong Poison once, listened to the Ian Carmichael audiobook, and watched the Edward Petherbridge tv adaptation twice, I wouldn't be still at the point of giggling every few pages or staying up all night to finish it. You'd definitely be wrong.

It's so good coming back to these characters and learning more about them, and having the fondness about them, and not having my mind occupied with trying to figure out the mystery. Miss Murchison! Miss Climpson! Bunter! Parker! The whole Victorian asking of intentions bit!

I think one of my favourite moments, oddly, was the moment in which Peter is thinking crossly about suicides and how they should leave a note, just to avoid all the mess. And he thinks about how he should do it, not in terms of "if", but in terms of "when". Such a chillingly telling moment, and dropped in at the end of a chapter, and never returned to -- how typical of Peter's character, for something so serious to be only glanced across. And it's one of those moments that you see Peter very clearly as more than a silly ass, instead of just having to take that on faith. I don't know if I'm explaining it very well -- and this is an extraordinary amount of my review to devote to what was really a tiny detail -- but the moment really caught my attention.

So yes. Still toe-curlingly squee worthy, even on a fifth go at the plot.
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The novel in which Harriet Vane is introduced and Miss Climpson is bowed out. It was a difficult book to write since it, unlike previous books, strayed into the territory of the romance novel. Lord Peter has to be made sexy somehow and is, in unfortunate paragraph, described as imperious. At least no bodices were ripped.Miss Climpson, who was introduced in Unnatural Death, has most of the best dialogue. Unfortunately, while her campaign to discover the will is ingeniously conducted, it is difficult to believe in the extraordinary spiritualist beliefs of the nurse whom she deceives.Norman Urqhart's improbably lengthy description of the career of Cremorna Gardens' various relative over the breakfast table suggests that Sayer's just didn't want to be bothered to write dialogue.Sayers is occasionally quite poetic, as when she describes Lord Peter's realization that he is growing older and less carefree.Her satire of Bohemian London _is_ funny, but so broad that it is not as funny as some of her other efforts.
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Next on my list is Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers. This was another super-cheap booksale impulse buy. I had seen reviews on LT of her works and decided it was worth trying one. This is a Lord Peter Wimsey murder mystery, somewhere in the middle of the series. I believe this is set in the late 1920s.The book opens with Harriet Vane on trial for poisoning her ex-lover with arsenic, just before the jury is sequestered for a verdict, with the judge summing up the case. Harriet Vane is a moderately successful murder mystery author who recently researched arsenic poisoning for her latest novel. Lord Peter Wimsey apparently attended the trial and fell in love with the defendant and has decided to find the real murderer. He already has a reputation as a highly successful amateur sleuth with connections to Scotland Yard, not to mention great personal wealth and family connections as the brother of a duke.The actual murderer was not difficult to figure out early on. The plot was not particularly complicated or subtle. This is very much a character-driven series. I must say that Peter's dialogue is quite odd, eccentric, idiosyncratic, full of literary allusions and period slang. It is worth reading the books, perhaps, just to hear him speak. Particularly amusing was his reference to Jeeves (as in P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster) when admonishing his valet, Bunker.The other interesting item was the treatment of women. While Sayers's protagonist is male, many of the pivotal clues are discovered by his female allies/employees. In effect, he has created a detective agency employing strictly women (fondly called "The Cattery"), which allows him to inveigle someone into suspicious households and businesses in the guise of domestic servants, clerical employees, and so on to gather the important clues and evidence. This works because women are so often invisible, downtrodden, and otherwise suffer under the oppressive society that provides them so few opportunities to exist outside of marriage and well-to-do families. Many of the women employed by the agency would be destitute without this rare and discreet job opportunity. Hence they are certainly loyal to Lord Peter and very dedicated in their work. Regardless of its effectiveness as a plot device, it provides an interesting perspective on the society of the day. None of the characters is particularly deep, but they are individuals.So I may try other books from the library, but I'm not interested enough to add this series to my own collections. I'll be giving this copy away. It was enjoyable enough, worth the read, but not a keeper for me.
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The first in the trilogy of the love of Lord Peter Wimsey. A very good book with an excellent mystery. I adore the debate Miss Climpson has with herself on whether or not to fake Spiritualism to get the evidence she needs in the case. Also watching Wimsey as he falls in love. The resolution of the case is also very satisfactory.
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Our first introduction to Harriet Vane and one of the great romances of cozy detection. I know that many people now see Peter Wimsey as a foppish caricature but this is not my perception. Here he is the romantic hero of a quest for the fair lady with the looming deadline of Harriet's retrial setting a clear boundary to his investigation. In practice, the murderer can be deduced early in the novel, so it becomes a whydoit and a howdunnit until the end.Written in the late 1920s about contemporary England, the book is filled with social commentary explored from various angles by using the viewpoints of several characters. Harriet's circumstances having been shaped significantly by the changing role of women. Modernism and spiritualism are mocked trenchantly in sharp aphorisms.Most whodunnits do not bear rereading but Sayers' sharp with and incisive observation provide continuing rewards.
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This was the first Peter Wimsey mystery that I didn't find totally satisfying. I had really high hopes; I couldn't wait to find out how Peter and Harriet met, and why Peter fell in love with her.

It starts off promisingly enough - the judge is summarizing the case against Harriet for the jury, who are about to start their deliberations. It's a pretty strong case; Harriet's former lover died of arsenic poisoning, and Harriet had been buying arsenic for research purposes.

Now, first of all, it was really easy to figure out who the real murderer was. Normally Sayers keeps me guessing much longer than she did here.

Second of all, Peter does almost nothing from beginning to end. Miss Climpson and her staff do all the actual detecting - Peter mostly flops around feeling a little useless because love for Harriet has impaired his judgement.

Third of all, Peter is already in love with Harriet as the book begins. Not only do we not see him actually falling in love, the first thing he ever says to her is to ask her to marry him. This is romantic and all, but what makes Peter and Harriet's relationship so magical to me, at least, is their repartee - they're so well matched in wit, sensibility, and principle. I thought something more mature than love at first sight would bring them together.

There's a little bit of a twist - but I guessed it around the same time as I guessed the murderer, which is to say pretty early on.

I still enjoyed Strong Poison, quite a bit, but Sayers has done better.
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By now you will have surmised that I got a load of Sayers books in 2006 and had at them. True.

This one is the first one with Sayers' authorial insertion character, Harriet Vane, which works out a lot better than you might expect. Sayers is quite realistic about herself, it's Wimsey she puts on a ludicrous pedestal.

Reread in August 2011.
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