Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hangman's Holiday: Review

Back to Dorothy L Sayers for a quick and comfortable read. I'm still working my way through her Lord Peter Wimsey stories for the As My Whimsy Takes Me Reading Challenge. Hangman's Holiday is a mixed bag collection of Sayers' short stories. We are offered four LPW shorts, six stories featuring Montague Egg (traveling salesman for Plummet & Rose, Wine & Spirts), and two stand-alone stories. My second (or third or whatever) go round on the stories wasn't quite as exciting as I recall my initial reading having been.

This collection features "The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey" (a story I read earlier this year in Great British Detectives). In it, we find my favorite aristocratic sleuth in one of his rare adventures outside England. Lord Peter becomes interested in a rather grotesque revenge--plotted and carried out in the Basque region of northern Spain. It is up to Lord Peter to rescue a damsel in distress from the evil machinations of her jealous husband.

The other Wimsey stories are:

"The Image in the Mirror": where Wimsey meets a young man on a train journey who believes he has been turned into a mirror image of himself--possibly an evil, murderous version.

"The Queen's Square": in which the White Queen is murdered at a costume ball and it seems as though no one could have done it.

"The Necklace of Pearls": in which a valuable string of perfectly matched pearls goes missing at a classic country Christmas party. It is up to Wimsey to "see" where they've gone before the culprit can make off with them permanently.

Montague Egg stories:

"The Poisoned Dow '08": in which Monty proves how it was possible to poison Lord Borrodale with a never before opened bottle of wine.

"Sleuths on the Scent": in which Monty helps the police get their man with a bottle of Parma Violets.

"Murder in the Morning": where a murderer is found out through Monty's observations of the gas station and a clock.

"One Too Many": in which Monty explains how two men can travel on one train ticket.

"Murder at Pentecost": listen as Monty tells the old story of the boy who cried "Wolf!"

"Maher-Shalal-Hashbz": in which Monty is suspicious of the crazy cat man. Who needs that many cats, anyway?

Stand-alones (both stories of men driven to murder, rather than about the capture of a criminal):

"The Man Who Knew How": What would you do if a stranger told you about a fool-proof method to commit murder?

"The Fountain Plays": Once a blackmailee, always a blackmailee. OR How a little bit of murder won't solve your problems.

These stories are Sayers at play. They're whimsical and fantastic. Sometimes downright unreal. some are better than others. But they're great fun and not to be missed if you're a Sayers fan. Three stars.


Anonymous said...

I'm reading Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries in chronological order too. (I reviewed Unnatural Death recently).
Thank you for the review of the short stories, which I hadn't considered reading as I'm keen to get to the Harriet Vane/Wimsey novels,but now I will read this collection.

Julie said...

This sounds so good .. Short stories tend to rock my socks, especially when time is short! Thanks, 'cause this one is going on my list!