Thursday, January 16, 2020

Book Review: Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers

Unnatural Death
Author: Dorothy L. Sayers
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey (Book 3)
Publication: Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller (July 31, 2012)

Description: When a terminally ill woman dies much earlier than expected, Lord Peter Wimsey suspects murder: “First-rate detection” (The Cincinnati Enquirer).

Though never quick-witted, Agatha Dawson had an iron constitution and a will to fight that never abated in her old age. Even after three operations failed to rid her of her cancer, she refused to give in. But as her body began to weaken, she accused lawyers, nurses, and doctors of trying to kill her and snatch her fortune. The town physician, an expert in cancer, gives her six months to live. Only three days later, she is dead.

Though the autopsy reveals nothing surprising, the doctor suspects that Agatha’s niece had some hand in the old woman’s death. When Lord Peter Wimsey, the dashing gentleman detective, looks into the matter, he finds that death stalks all those who might testify. How can he continue his investigation when every question marks another innocent for murder?

My Thoughts: This third in a series begins when Lord Peter and his friend Parker are dining out and discussing the perfect crime. A man at the next table tells about a suspicious occurrence which intrigues Peter. The man is a doctor and tells of the unexpected deaths of one of his cancer patients and his suspicion that she was murdered by the great-niece who inherits all of her worldly goods.

Peter first needs to convince Parker that there was actually a crime committed since the medical examiners put the death down to heart failure. Peter sends in one of his irregulars. Miss Climpson to do what she naturally does. As a spinster of limited means she is the perfect one to ask impertinent questions since that is what spinsters apparently do.

Peter begins to believe that the case has something to do with the victim's lack of a will. A new law has been passed that would not allow the great-niece to inherit if the victim had just lived into the new year. But even with that clue and the fact the possible witnesses to the niece's behavior are dying, Peter still can't figure out how the crime was committed.

This was an entertaining mystery with Peter's usual dithering and literary asides. I especially enjoyed Miss Climpson's reports with underlining and multiple exclamation points. I did miss Bunter and wished that he had had a larger role in the story. I did notice a lot of racial and gender in-sensitivities that would have made the book hard to publish today.

Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
"I make imbecile suggestions and he does the work of elaborately disproving them. Then, by process of elimination, we find the right explanation, and the world says, 'My god, what intuition that young man has.'"
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.


  1. I've been wanting to read more in this genre and it sounds like an intriguing series.


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