Second book of the RIP V Challenge.

After reading the first Lord Wimsey book I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second so the RIP Challenge gave me a good excuse for moving it up on the TBR list.

The premise of this murder comes straight out of an Agatha Christie book: a group of English aristocrats come together in a country mansion to do some hunting, but one of them turns up dead. The unfortunate fellow happens to be Lady Mary, (Lord Wimsey’s younger sister) husband to be. To complicate matters further, it was the older Wimsey brother who found the body and refuses to give to account for his whereabouts at the time of the murder. So this time Peter Wimsey’s skills in investigation are needed closer to home.

From the start Wimsey knows they will uncover a lot of dirt about his family, as not only his brother but also his sister act suspiciously. Respect to Wimsey for not shying away from the task. As he says to his “Watson”, Charles Parker from the Scotland Yard: “The best we can do is to look the evidence in the face, however ugly. And I don’t mind admittin’ that some of it’s a positive gargoyle”.

And talking about Charles Parker, let me just say how I appreciate that Sayers did not create a passive side-kick, only useful to make the main character even more spectacular. Parker is, of course, less brilliant than Wimsey, but a very good and honest police officer, and often more sensible than the man himself.

Although Cloud of Witness was also very good, I still prefer the first book in the series. Even though Clouds of Witnesses is about the Wimsey family, Sayers focused on the mystery and legal proceedings so much (and they were fun!), that there was little chance for further character development. There was surprisingly little insights into Peter Wimsey, especially considering the family connection.

One of the highlights was the few scenes with Wimsey’s mother. She is superb. You never really know if she’s being serious or not in the outrageous things she says… and the way her mind just goes on, and on, and on. As a character said, “Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.”

Wouldn’t it be great to have over for dinner Bertie, Wooster, Lord Peter and Bunter? Maybe the three men on a boat and Montmorency might also drop by. What a cozy evening we would have…

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