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This is the fifth Dorothy Sayers novel I have read in her Lord Peter Wimsey series, and I continue to enjoy her writing, and Lord Peter s character development There is even an updated biography by Lord Peter s uncle at the back of the book so we can continue to fill in the gaps of his life as the author herself discovers about him.The plots are growing refined over time with lots of red herrings and I especially like the ones that Lord Peter tosses immediately back into the sea His intuition continues to develop even when some of the suspects have lines of evidence with arrows at the end pointing right at them, Lord Peter finds cracks in those lines and shows how they were bent to point in the wrong direction.These are not fast paced, heart racing novels by any means In the classic style, they are superbly plotted, skillfully written, old fashioned whodunnits and I continue to look forward to each one As a crime novel, it s not bad compared to her earlier works, it s a definite improvement in terms of the tightness and plausibility of her plotting Not the best crime novel you re ever going to read, and lightweight compared to the later books, but it still has a nice few twists and turns in it along the way.Of course, this being a DLS novel, I m not actually reading it for the murder mystery The book s introduction describes Sayers work is very much a tapestry novel , and I d have to agree Even if you were to take away the slang and the descriptions of the clothing and so on, this would still, inescapably, be a novel set in England in 1928 It s bound up and connected with the culture and the society and the s of post Great War Britain.Some of this is still accessible for us at the beginning of the twenty first century other parts of it, not so much I m thinking primarily of the class issue both the mere fact that for the people Sayers was mostly concerned with, having valets and butlers and maids still wasn t unusual, and other reasons of the consequences of something so earth shattering as WWI and of the changing role of women within the novel Though I suppose you could put up a damn convincing argument as to why that latter aspect really hasn t changed much at all The relationship between Sheila and George Fentiman is painful to read about, truly painful all the so because I think it s fairly clear that they are still in love despite it all They are a prime example of effect which the war and rising employment among married, middle class women had on gender relations Sheila has no choice but to work for George, this is a reflection on him as a man, and somehow a violation of how things ought to be again, perhaps, not so different nowadays.We re constantly reminded of how much the war has changed everything women can no longer afford to stay at home, nor are they content to stay in the roles which they were once expected to occupy hence some decidedly snide remarks about modern young women who jazz , and about lady companions Their roles have shifted to encompass than ever before but there is a feeling both that this is not appropriate as in the case of George s opinion and that it hasn t been earned see Robert s I bet she never did anything in the Great War, Daddy when talking about Ann Dorland s inheritance The figures of women like Naomi and Ann symbolise the huge loss of life in the war, something which made it impossible for many women to even think of finding a husband and, disturbingly, they also show how much suspicion single women were regarded with at the time See the constant references to sex mania, or the threat thereof, being applied to figures like Anne.Then there are the straightforward references to the war and Peter s oh, Peter reaction to it the yearly dinner with Colonel Marchbanks the crippled cloakroom attendant Even when talking about Robert, the brother who supposedly came out of the war best, we are told thatRobert was proverbial, you know, for never turning a hair I remember Robert, at that ghastly hole at Carency, where the whole ground was rotten with corpses ugh potting those swollen great rats for a penny a time, and laughing at them Rats Alive and putrid with what they d been feeding on Oh, yes, Robert was thought a damn good soldier Try telling me that we don t know from that part onwards that Robert s been than a little damaged by the war let alone when we realise how he s willing to manipulate his grandfather s death for financial gain.All these young men trapped in a world they helped to create, unable to cope with it they ve suffered so much, and yet they re being castigated for it by their elders, the old military gentlemen of the Bellona Club, who are unable to comprehend what they ve been through Such a sad novel. EXCERPT What in the world, Wimsey, are you doing in this Morgue demanded Captain Fentiman, flinging aside the Evening Banner with the air of a man released from an irksome duty Oh, I wouldn t call it that, retorted Wimsey amiably Funeral Parlour at the very least Look at the marble Look at the furnishings Look at the palms and the chaste bronze nude in the corner Yes, and look at the corpses Place always reminds me of that old thing in Punch, you know Waiter Take away Lord Whatsisname He s been dead two days Look at old Ormsby there, snoring like a hippopotamus Look at my revered grandpa dodders in here at ten every morning, collects the Morning Post and the armchair by the fire, and becomes part of the furniture til the evening Poor old devil I suppose I ll be like that one of these days ABOUT THIS BOOK Ninety year old General Fentiman has been estranged for years from his sister, Lady Dormer On the afternoon of 10 November, he is called to her deathbed for a reconciliation, and learns the terms of her will If she dies first he will inherit a fortune, which his grandsons sorely need But if he dies first, nearly all of the money will go to Ann Dorland, a distant relative of Lady Dormer s late husband She is a young woman with artistic leanings who lives with Lady Dormer.Lady Dormer dies at 10 37 AM the next day, which is 11 November Armistice Day That afternoon the General is found dead in his armchair at the club This produces a hysterical outburst from his younger grandson, George Fentiman, a veteran of World War I still suffering from the effects of poison gas and shell shock Due to the terms of Lady Dormer s will and the time of her death, it becomes necessary to establish the exact time of the General s death Though the estate would provide amply for all three heirs, Ann Dorland refuses any compromise settlement Wimsey is asked to help solve the puzzle by his friend Mr Murbles, the solicitor for the Fentiman family Wimsey agrees, though he insists that he will pursue the exact truth, regardless of who benefits.MY THOUGHTS At the time I first read this, I wrote This is quite the best Lord Peter Wimsey novel I have read thus far I read the whole series as part of a challenge on Goodreads a few years ago, and developed a fondness for both Sayers and Lord Peter, but this remains the firm favorite The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club is 5 in the series and Lord Peter s personality is beginning to flower he really is quite a sweetie with a kind heart, a man who likes to see people happy He even gets to play matchmaker I love the way his mind works, and he has quite a theatrical bent.Lord Peter had been joking about how a body could sit in its chair in the club undetected, when one is discovered Everyone had thought the elderly General Fendman was merely snoozing by the fire But when it becomes imperative to ascertain the exact time of the General s death to determine the recipient of a half million pound inheritance, Lord Peter will need to employ all his skills and those of his butler Bunter and good friend Inspector Charles Parker.This is a true British classic and one I enjoyed immensely Best enjoyed on a wet, wintery afternoon in front of the fire with tea and crumpets THE AUTHOR Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.Dorothy L Sayers is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante s Divina Commedia to be her best work She is also known for her plays and essays.DISCLOSURE I own my copy of The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by D L Sayers All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system This review and others are also published on my blog sandysbookaday.wordpress.com Published in 1928 this Lord Peter Wimsey mystery is set around Remembrance Day When Wimsey arrives at the Bellona Club he meets up with his friend, George Fentiman, who is a victim of poison gas and shell shock during the war He admits to Lord Peter that he is struggling financially and is upset that he is dependent upon his wife Sheila going out to work This novel sees Lord Peter Wimsey, and author Dorothy L Sayers, in a much reflective mood There is an obvious distance between the generations as George Fentiman struggles with the post war world, both his brother Robert and his grandfather, General Fentiman, see the war as something to be celebrated and the elderly General perceives George s problems as weakness.When the elderly general is found dead in his armchair at the club, there is an attempt to contact his estranged sister, Lady Dormer However, it is discovered that, not only had she also died, but the two met on Lady Dormer s deathbed only the evening before Solicitor Mr Murbles asks Lord Peter to investigate which of them died first as the terms of Lady Dormer s will mean that if she died first, Robert and George Fentiman will inherit a fortune However, if General Fentiman died first, the money will go to Ann Dorland, a distant relative of Lady Dormer, who acted as her companion.Of course, what begins as a simple investigation to discover the time of General Fentiman s death becomes a much involved and complicated affair There are mysterious sightings of someone who may be able to clarify the matter, chases across the Continent, wonderful detours into some of the popular fads of the period, and even an exhumation, before Lord Peter, along with his detective inspector friend Charles Parker, discover the truth This is a well plotted and interesting novel clearly showing how the WWI veterans are viewed by the older generation and highlighting the staid, unsympathetic opinions of the elderly, ex military members who make up the majority of the gentleman s club They are a generation separated by a new kind of warfare and perfectly capture the truth that the generation gap is by no means a new experience I love Dorothy L Sayers novels and Lord Peter Wimsey is one of my favourite fictional sleuths This is a wonderful glimpse into a vanished world, as well as a fascinating mystery. ( READ KINDLE ) ⚐ The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club ⚆ Lord Peter Wimsey Bent Down Over General Fentiman And Drew The Morning Post Gently Away From The Gnarled Old Hands Then, With A Quick Jerk, He Lifted The Quiet Figure It Came Up All Of A Piece, Stiff As A Wooden DollBut How Did The General Die Who Was The Mysterious Mr X Who Fled When He Was Wanted For Questioning And Which Of The General S Heirs, Both Members Of The Bellona Club, Is Lying I should disclaim that I Iistened to the BBC radio dramatization of this on my commutes rather than read it For those thinking about doing the same Each of the stories in the collection is around about three hours to listen to, so time your own commute out accordingly And really, the story is pretty perfect for the medium Sayers stories are generally heavy on talk anyway, and the very few action scenes that are required are amply taken care of by someone banging on the walls, creaking a door or producing a gunshot in the distance Ian Carmichael s voice and cheeri frightfully ho and all that attack at the dialogue is very much perfection, though I almost wish he went farther with it for maximum judge me at your peril effect The story itself was compelling in that while I guessed who was guilty relatively early on, I did not guess who was innocent, and that was a lovely surprise I also appreciate that Sayers found a way to structure her story so as to use it as a reminder of an ongoing issue at the time Men living with cases of shell shock years and years after the Great War Listening to the way it was handled by the gruff, privileged Englishmen who populate this story was actually unexpectedly affecting.The next in the collection is Strong Poison, and I m very curious to see if I like it any better in radio version than I did in print an excellently self explanatory bit of throwaway of Sayers that I will now use as a characterization tool forever, by the way, to introduce men of a certain type. 3.5I can t help but be amused by that understatement in the title I love it A Crimean War veteran, General Fentiman, died in his chair at the Bellona Club Lord Peter Wimsey is there too Since the general was very old, nobody asks any questions Well, not until they realize it is very important to know the exact time of the general s death because of a surprising inheritance.Next thing you know, any other weird things pile up and Lord Wimsey is asked to find out the exact time of the man s death It isn t as easy as it sounds though.I can t say too much about the plot nor about the things I liked so as not to spoil it There are certain social issues pointed out regarding war veterans, women and their rights, desires and opportunities and so on None of this is in your face You have to work for it a sentence here, a remark there This book never leaves the protagonist the way the third book, Unnatural Death, did one of the reasons I disliked it so much There are q couple of surprises too You may think where the author is leading us, but I wouldn t count on it.Lord Peter Wimsey is one of my favourite amateur investigators. On the surface, a pleasant puzzle piecey little murder mystery, with Peter bounding here and there, declaiming and detectiving his way to an answer But under that yikes What an uncomfortable book, with people turning and twisting and snagging on each other like brambles on silk Everyone stuck inside a little box called marriage or poverty or shell shock or police rules This book is all tight spaces the badly lit veteran s club, the body crammed up tight in the phone box, the stifling social scene There s something bitter and angry down deep here, something peculiarly postwar and female and stuck in a way I can t put my finger precisely on And then the little cut of the title, because of course we wouldn t want anything unpleasant to happen, no no, particularly not to the soldiers who made it home alive, the lucky ones who are clearly and absolutely fine now.Eek. Where I got the book my bookshelf A re read.I have grown to love this Lord Peter Wimsey mystery because of its somberness, although I remember that when I first read it as a teen I found it uninteresting Amazing how history and, therefore, literature becomes complex and interesting as you age The mystery LPW is called on to investigate is the time of death of ancient, doddery General Fentiman, which will make a big financial difference to one or of three potential heirs Of course things turn out to be way complicated than the natural death of a very old soldierThis novel is set against the background of the aftermath of World War I, hence its realistic, sober tone than the earlier novels LPW comes very well out of this book, with far fewer fantastic speeches or superhuman feats of everything than some of the Wimsey novels are prone to I feel, though, that the writing s a little rougher than usual, as if Sayers were on a short deadline Another thing that struck me this time round and I may be completely wrong is that Ann Dorland, one of the heirs and thus a potential suspect, was a prototype of Harriet Vane, who will turn up in the next novel as LPW s love interest Ann is an unhappy woman because she s been crossed in love, is a murder suspect but underneath it all as LPW tells her is a fine person with good taste Does that sound familiar, Wimsey fans Can t help thinking that at some point Sayers thought hey, there s a little spark there I could develop it for the next novel.A good mystery, of course Sayers is nothing if not ingenious although this is two times in quick succession that the victim has been an elderly person who would soon die anyway But it s the brooding, foggy feel of the book that really gives it its worth Even Parker inside whose head we dwell rather disconcertingly at times seems to be permanently depressed, and the end of the book sort of drifts off into the mist One to read by a cheerful log fire with a glass of old brandy Engaging and SO, SO English of this period It s the men s club and there s an elder s death But when did he die It s pivotal to an inheritance to prove exactly when Minutes may count as fortune He was seated there for hours This was one of the few I read back in the day It s just as good now And so very, very Lord Peter Wimsey in language Some of the conversations have the cadence of a two or three sided octave refrain chorus plus an accompanied dance.It displays Sayers in her most discerning mood to nuance of that changing time after a type of war that never was before Incredible that she grasped so many men s cognition and feeling for then It s a glimpse into a world that no longer exists too.