Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers
I am just plowing through this series, aided by the wonderful observations of Sarah Monette. (Be warned, the commentary is full of spoilers, which are mostly but not all warned for.) So most of my comments on Have His Carcase are derived from the discussions over there.
One of the most interesting things about the Lord Peter Wimsey series is the way it develops, from being fairly straightforward Golden Age mysteries (think Agatha Christie) to being much more complex novels that also happen to be mysteries. This book is all about the difference between formula mysteries, novels, and real life; the novel opens with mystery writer Harriet Vane (who is clearly based on Parker herself) discovering a body on the beach, after all.
And the novel progresses from there, weaving back and forth between the mystery plot and the ongoing plot about Harriet’s relationship with Lord Peter. And in amongst all the worrying about motives and times (timing is very important in this book) and making up stories about how the victim might possibly have been killed, there is this wonderful scene with the two of them. It’s heartwrenching, and wonderful, and tremendously realistic. It would seem out of place in one of the earlier Wimsey books; here it fits, but only just.
I am promised that this trend continues with Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon, and I cannot wait.
Source: public library, local branch this time (this series is spread all over the system…)
Also read: Dorothy L. Sayers’s The Five Red Herrings, a classic Golden Age mystery based entirely around the complexities of train schedules. (I am reading them in order, however much I miss Harriet when she’s not there.) Which I did not enjoy nearly as much, sorry.