Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Series #5)

Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Series #5)

by Dorothy L. Sayers

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Overview

Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Series #5) by Dorothy L. Sayers

“A model detective story…Fascinating.”
New York Times

The great Dorothy L. Sayers is considered by many to be the premier detective novelist of the Golden Age, and her dashing sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey, one of mystery fiction’s most enduring and endearing protagonists. Acclaimed author Ruth Rendell has expressed her admiration for Sayers’s work, praising her “great fertility of invention, ingenuity, and wonderful eye for detail.” The Dorothy L. Sayers classic, Strong Poison, is now back in print with an introduction by Elizabeth George, herself a crime fiction master. In Strong Poison, Sayers introduces Harriet Vane, a mystery writer who is accused of poisoning her fiancé and must now join forces with Lord Peter to escape a murder conviction and the hangman’s noose.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062196200
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/16/2012
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey Series , #5
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 270
Sales rank: 62,117
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

Dorothy L. Sayers was born in 1893. She was one of the first women to be awarded a degree by Oxford University, and later she became a copywriter at an ad agency. In 1923 she published her first novel featuring the aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey, who became one of the world's most popular fictional heroes. She died in 1957.

Date of Birth:

June 13, 1893

Date of Death:

December 17, 1957

Place of Birth:

Oxford, England

Education:

B.A., Oxford University, 1915; M.A., B.C.L., 1920

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

There were crimson roses on the bench; they looked like splashes of blood.

The judge was an old man; so old, he seemed to have outlived time- and change and death. His parrot-face and parrot-voice were dry, like his old, heavily-veined hands. His scarlet robe clashed harshly with the crimson of the roses. He had sat for three days in the stuffy court, but he showed no sign of fatigue.

He did not look at the prisoner as he gathered his notes into a neat sheaf and turned to address the jury, but the prisoner looked at him. Her eyes, like dark smudges under the heavy square brows, seemed equally without fear and without hope. They waited.

"Members of the jury--"

The patient old eyes seemed to sum them up and take stock of their united intelligence. Three respectable tradesmen--a tall, argumentative one, a stout, embarrassed one with a drooping moustache, and an unhappy one with a bad cold; a director of a large company, anxious not to waste valuable time; a publican, incongruously cheerful; two youngish men of the artisan class; a nondescript, elderly man, of educated appearance, who might have been anything; an artist with a red beard disguising a weak chin; three women--an elderly spinster, a stout capable woman who kept a sweet-shop, and a harassed wife and mother whose thoughts seemed to be continually straying to her abandoned hearth.

"Members of the jury-you have listened with great patience and attention to the evidence in this very distressing case, and it is now my duty to sum up the facts and arguments which ha' been put before you by the learned Attorney-General and by the learned Counsel for theDefense, and to put them in order as clearly as possible, so as to help you in forming your decision.

"But first of all, perhaps I ought to say a few words with regard to that decision itself. You know, I am sure, that it is a great principle of English law that every accused person is held to be innocent unless and until he is proved otherwise. It is not necessary for him, or her, to prove innocence; it is, in the modern slang phrase, 'up to' the Crown to prove guilt, and unless you are quite satisfied that the Crown has done this beyond all reasonable doubt, it is your duty to return a verdict of 'Not Guilty.' That does not necessarily mean that the prisoner has established her innocence by proof, it simply means that the Crown has failed to produce in your minds an undoubted conviction of her guilt."

Salcombe Hardy, lifting his drowned-violet eyes for a moment from his reporter's note-book, scribbled two words on a slip of paper and pushed them over to Waffles Newton. "Judge hostile." Waffles nodded. They were old hounds on this blood-trail.

The judge creaked on.

"You may perhaps wish to hear from me exactly what is meant by those words 'reasonable doubt.' They mean, just so much doubt as you might have in every-day life about an ordinary matter of business. This is a case of murder, and it might be natural for you to think that, in such a case, the words mean more than this. But that is not so. They do not mean that you must cast about for fantastical solutions of what seems to you plain, and simple. They do not mean. those nightmare doubts which sometimes torment us at four o'clock in the morning when we have not slept very well. They only mean that the proof must be such as you would accept about a plain matter of buying and selling, or some such commonplace transaction. You must not strain your belief in favour of the prisoner any more, of course, than you must accept proof of her guilt without the most careful scrutiny.

"Having said just these few words, go that you may not feel too much overwhelmed by the heavy responsibility laid upon you by your duty to, the State, I will now begin at the beginning and try to place the story that we have heard, as clearly as possible before you.

"The case for the Crown is that the prisoner, Harriet Vane, murdered Philip Boyes by poisoning him with arsenic. I need not detain you by going through the proof offered by Sir James Lubbock and the other doctors who have given evidence as to the cause of death. The Crown say he died of arsenical poisoning, and the defence do not dispute it. The evidence is, therefore, that the death was due to arsenic, and you must accept that as a fact. The only question that remains for you is whether, in fact, that arsenic was deliberately administered by the prisoner with intent to murder.

"The deceased, Philip Boyes, was, as you have heard, a writer. He was thirty-six years old, and he had published five novels and a large number of essays and articles. All these literary works were of what is sometimes called an 'advanced' type. They preached doctrines which may seem to some of us immoral or seditious, such as atheism, and anarchy, and what is known as free love. His private life appears to have been conducted, for some time at least, in accordance with these doctrines.

"At any rate, at some time in the year 1927, he became acquainted with Harriet Vane. They met in some of those artistic and literary circles where 'advanced' topics are discussed, and after a time they became very friendly. The prisoner is also a novelist by profession, and it is very important to remember that she is a writer of so-called 'mystery' or 'detective' stories, such as deal with various ingenious methods of committing murder and other crimes.

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Strong Poison 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
vanlyle More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It had many quirky and amusing descriptions and had a fun plot. I finished it smiling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not only a good murder mystery, but also a close look at a bygone era of manners, behavior, and the old-fashioned sense of honor
nookpj More than 1 year ago
This first meeting between Lord Peter and Harriet Vane sets the stage for 3 more mysterious and romantic adventures. If you love Lord Peter, his real story begins with Harriet. Read on!
bookfanaticSS More than 1 year ago
Well, I wrote an in-depth and thoughtful review about this story, written by one of my favorite authors. Unfortunately, the website ate it without warning. I do not think I can duplicate it again. Suffice to say that the Lord Peter Wimsey novels are one of the few mysteries that I can re-read over and over again. Strong Poison introduces the character of mystery novelist Harriet Vane, whom Lord Peter falls in love with on first sight. Problem is, his first sight of her is when she's in court on trial for murdering her former lover. It will take all his ingenuity, intelligence, and charm to save Harriet's life--and convince her his feelings for her are real.
CCTynan More than 1 year ago
This is the first Lord Peter novel to feature Harriet Vane. Try to start with this one if you can. There are other Lord Peter books without her, including the first one, Whose Body? Sayers is right up there with Christie, so give her a try.
GeoffSmock More than 1 year ago
In this installment it is not necessarily the mystery that grips or holds the reader, but once again the singularly enjoyable experience of observing Lord Wimsey, especially within the new wrinkle of his determination to rescue the damsel from the gallows and win her hand in marriage. Another great and enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Peter Wimsley is a captivating character from a great time period in England. It is hard to believe the author is a woman! The plot development and additional supporting individuals and their unfolding make for a great read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It seems that Sayers only conjures up a detective plot for total absence of structure. She has a wonderful assortment of characters and conflicts outside of the dully predictable mystery (your's truly guessed the murder, motive, and means by page 15, much like the Dowager Duchess) but can't very well write a pointless book about only them and their captivating allusions and habits. The mstery is therefore introduced to hold everyone together with a common goal. This isn't for connoisseurs of the detective novel, only for those of mood and educated comedy. I personally prefer Poirot's 'little grey cells' method to Wimsey's active sleuthing, but it helps to think that Wimsey's sleuthing isn't nearly everything Sayers's books focus on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, and Dorothy Sayers. Their writing styles are different, but the end result is the same: complex and appealing characters, clever mysteries, and well-paced stories all combine to create entertaining books that stand the test of time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic author.
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~EMPIRE'S ARMORY~
prussblue10 More than 1 year ago
I was so glad to finally read the title that started it all for the Wimsey Series. If you have not read the other series titles, you definitely might want to read this one first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good