Poison opens with a courtroom scene that introduces Harriet
Vane, a mystery author on trial for murder. She’s become
an expert on arsenic for her latest novel. Unfortunate, since
her former lover died from arsenic poisoning.
Lord Peter Wimsey attends her trial and intuitively believes
Harriet is being set up for murder. He asks Harriet’s
solicitor to let him meet her, little suspecting that her
smile would melt his heart. Wimsey become determined to clear
Harriet of all charges. Along with the assistance of his efficient
manservant, Bunter, and investigations by his female employees,
Miss Climpson and Miss Murchison, Wimsey manages to prove
Harriet’s innocence and save her reputation, but only
time will prove if he can win her heart.
I first read Dorothy L. Sayers year ago and have been a big
fan of her mysteries. I was delighted to learn that Strong
Poison, the first in a series of four mysteries that
feature Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, has been reissued.
After reading this novel, I am again reminded of what a great
author Dorothy Sayers was.
Wimsey is his usual, unflappable self, though now he’s
found a female who is his equal, one with whom he could spend
his life. But first, Wimsey must clear Harriet Vane of all
suspicion regarding the charges of murder. Harriet is only
a sketchy character in this book -- she is, after all, in
prison -- but even so, the reader can tell she’s intelligent
and represents the changing independence and role of women
during the late 1920s and early 30s. The plot is a wonderful
representation of the interests of the time, especially spiritualism,
and of English society itself.
Strong Poison is a delightfully entertaining novel
that will make you long for more.
Note: Follow-up novels featuring Lord Peter Wimsey
and Harriet Vane are Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night and Busman's