Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers – Mini Book Review

Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
Published by Bourbon Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins

From the publisher:

Mystery novelist Harriet Vane knew all about poisons, and when her fiancE died in the manner prescribed in one of her books, a jury of her peers had a hangman’s noose in mind. But Lord Peter Wimsey was determined to prove her innocent–as determined as he was to make her his wife.

For years I have been hearing praise of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey books from book bloggers whose taste I trust, and the four Harriet Vane books seem to be particularly well regarded. Personally, though, I just totally failed to connect with and care about Lord Peter, he simply didn’t appeal to me at all. Perhaps because Strong Poison comes in several books into the overarching Lord Peter Wimsey series, but there didn’t seem to be much character development and I more or less lost interest in him.

I do suspect that I might have enjoyed Strong Poison were Harriet Vane actually in it more. Because she is on trial for murder and has only just been introduced to Lord Peter, Harriet only directly appears in Strong Poison a few times, the story consists mostly of Lord Peter trying to prove her innocence without her. I’m going to give this series one more try with Have His Carcase to see if my hunch about enjoying Harriet more than Lord Peter is correct, but that will be do or die for me.

Have you read any of Dorothy L. Sayers’s mysteries? What did you think?

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11 comments to Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers – Mini Book Review

  • Think I’ve read many of those same reviews and really want to give Dorothy Sayers a try. Sounds like this may not be the best starting point, so I’ll be curious to see what others have to say.

  • I read Gaudy Night first (for a class) and quite enjoyed it (I was also in Oxford, where it’s set, at the time). That book is all about Harriet and it’s much more fun. I don’t care much for Lord Peter himself, but I enjoyed reading the other three Harriet mysteries after I’d “met” her in Gaudy Night.

    • You’re the second person I’ve heard that from since this post went up, now I sort of wish I’d started there. That was my original plan because it was the one I had heard of, but then I was advised to read them in order.

  • sarah kim

    In Gaudy, you get to know Harriet more intimately as a character whom you can care for, and ditto for Lord Peter. The first two, Strong Poison and Have His Carcase, are more plot-driven, so you don’t get to the main characters deeply. They are excellent re-reads.

  • I’ve also been meaning to read Dorothy Sayers – because people are always shocked I haven’t read her, since I read so many mysteries. But this doesn’t make me super enthused about it. :)

  • Diane Challenor

    I read many recommendations in the litbloggosphere about the Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy Sayers. I was disappointed. I love cozy mysteries but the one I read/heard (the first book in the series) The Nine Tailors, was a bit “dated” for me too old fashioned. I often enjoy stories that where written many years ago, I enjoyed Wilie Collin’s “Moonstone” and I enjoy Agatha Christie’s work. I can’t really explain what it was that led me to abandoned the story three quarters of the way through. I would add too that I don’t enjoy Wodehouse’s Jeeves either, so it’s just me and my taste.

  • Interesting. I’m trying to get through Whose Body?, the first Lord Peter Wimsey book, and I’m not having a good time of it. Maybe it’s not just me or my timing. I can’t seem to “get into” it. I put it down and actually lose track of what was happening when I return to it. For me, I think it’s something to do with the “Britishness” of it…I don’t know how quite to describe it, not the dialect, but something that I can’t quite put a finger on. It’s just not working for me. Whew! Thanks. Now I can move on to something else and not feel (too) guilty.

    • I know you read a lot of Agatha Christie and I was reading a lot of her work last year,I wonder how much Christie the bloggers who love Sayer have read or how much they have enjoyed the books. Maybe their audiences just don’t really overlap. Or maybe I really was let down primarily because I was expecting something more Christie-esque and you had a similar reaction. In any case, i am as glad to hear this from you as you were to hear it from me.

  • One of these days I’m going to get a Lord Peter book and read it. I just need to get through my other favorite Golden Age mystery writers first.