Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

My haphazard rereading (listening) of the detective novels of Dorothy L. Sayers continues. This week's installment is The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928). One really must admire the British sangfroid which calls the death of a club member (which proves ultimately to be murder) "unpleasantness." I have, of course, read Sayers's novels many times--most recently here on the Block in 2011 for the As My Whimsy Takes Me reading challenge. At that time I read the books featuring Lord Peter Wimsey in published order...this time I really have taken them on "as my whimsy takes me." And my whimsy decided that it was time to sit down and listen to Ian Carmichael read to me about the death of General Fentiman again.

My previous review (see link above) gives details on the heart of the matter. At its most basic, it is a pretty standard plot with a pretty common motive--greed. Two elderly people have died and depending on who died when, somebody is going to very wealthy. At first, Lord Peter is merely asked to try and find out who died first--General Fentiman or his sister Lady Dormer. It soon becomes clear that some highly unpleasant shenanigans have been employed to mystify the times of the death. But that isn't all. Somebody has been even more unpleasant and rushed the General to his final reward. But who? And how?

It is always a delight to listen to Ian Carmichael read the works of Sayers. He was very invested in the characters--he had, in fact, tried very hard to get someone to film the books much earlier the 1970s (when he was, truth be told, just a bit too old for the part of the younger Wimsey. The Ian Carmichael of the 1950s would have been perfect--especially for the early books where he is a bit more "Bertie Woosterish with brains."). With this one slightly more full of gentlemen than some of the other books, Carmichael uses his full powers to give a different sound and quality to each speaker to help the listener keep everything straight. Another fine reading performance by a fine actor. ★★★★

Golden Just the Facts--Who: Artist/Photographer. We have Marjorie Phelps sculpting; Ann Dorland painting (albeit rather badly); and Bunter photographing evidence.
Deaths = three (one natural [but highly important to the plot]; one poisoned; one shot)


Sean said...

Since you mention Ian Carmichael, I have a question: Do you prefer him over Edward Petherbridge? Many do, but I actually like them both. I especially like the Harriet Vane latter books that Petherbridge covered

Bev Hankins said...

Sean, Ian Carmichael is my first love as Wimsey. But I do like Petherbridge also. He's definitely more the right size.