A pretty well-done mystery, with lots of good twists and turns, but not quite up to the standard of Sayers’ later novels. All the regulars are here: Mr. Murbles, Bunter, Charles Parker, and most delightfully, the man known as Waffles. As in her other early novels, the big theme of this one is post-World-War-I trauma, and the mystery centers on this concept – the body that Peter investigates was found on Armistice Day, which ends up being an important factor in the case.
Lord Peter is delightful as always, although I noted an unusually misogynist attitude in him at times. But this didn’t even bother me, first because he has a very sweet conversation with a female suspect and is generally lovely, and also because this is the fifth Lord Peter mystery and that means that Harriet Vane is coming in the next book, and she is going to rock his world.
A Peter Wimsey mystery would not be complete without at least one delightfully clever exchange between two characters, and this book doesn’t disappoint. Peter’s artist friend Marjorie Phelps appears periodically throughout the book, and her conversations with Peter are always adorable. Here’s a bit of one:
“[Marjorie]: ‘What fun it will be. Where shall we run to?’
‘How about starting to-night and getting as far as Oddenino’s and going on to a show – if you’re not doing anything?’
‘You are a loveable man, and I shall call you Peter. Shall we see “Betwixt and Between”?’
‘The thing they had such a job to get past the censor? Yes, if you like. Is it particularly obscene?’
‘No, epicene, I fancy.’
‘Oh, I see. Well, I’m quite agreeable. Only I warn you that I shall make a point of asking you the meaning of all the risky bits in a very audible voice.’
‘That’s your idea of amusement, is it?’
‘Yes. It does make them so wild. People say “Hush!” and giggle, and if I’m lucky I end up with a gorgeous row in the bar.'”
Delightful, as always.
Verdict: three out of five stars