The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L. Sayers (with Robert Eustace)

From the back cover:
The grotesquely grinning corpse in the Devonshire shack was of a man who had died horribly—with a dish of mushrooms at his side. His body contained enough death-dealing muscarine to kill thirty people. Why would an expert on fungi feast on a large quantity of this particularly poisonous species? A clue to the brilliant murderer, who had baffled the best minds in London, was hidden in a series of letters and documents that no one seemed to care about, except the dead man’s son.

Review:
The Documents in the Case is the one full-length mystery novel penned by Dorothy L. Sayers that doesn’t star Lord Peter Wimsey. Before I’d read it, I knew of it merely as “the one with the mushrooms.” Now I’ll know it as “the really boring one with the mushrooms.”

For the most part, this is an epistolary novel in which letters written by the residents of a particular Bayswater address depict the state of family life before the death of patriarch and mushroom enthusiast, George Harrison (yes, really). Sayers expertly and efficiently depicts the character of each correspondent through their writing, including George himself; the young, flighty, and discontent lady of the house (Margaret); her deluded-to-the-point-of-insanity companion (Miss Milsom); the dashing artist tenant (Harwood Lathom); the deep-thought-having novelist tenant (John Munting); and George’s son from an earlier marriage (Paul), who has gathered the documents together in a bid to prove that his father was too much of an expert on mushrooms to have died from accidentally ingesting a poisonous variety.

Some of this is fairly interesting, some is irritating—seriously, although one can sympathize with Margaret for her repressive husband, she is still frequently too insincere and manipulative to bear—and some is downright tedious. Munting’s letters to his fiancée often lapse into pseudo-philosophizing, but the cake is taken by an extremely long and self-indulgent scene near the end in which Sayers uses a bunch of random professorial types as mouthpieces through which to espouse some theories on the origins of life. If I had a paper copy instead of an audiobook I would quote some of the dialogue from this section, but it will have to suffice it to say that my impatience caused me to hurl profanities at my innocent cassette player.

Eventually, this rambling conversation produces the means of proving the death was no accident, and then there’s a very brief postscript about how the culprit was hanged. The end.

Ultimately, I conclude that this one is only for completists. Completists, I wish I could say this was better, but perhaps it will be some small comfort to know that it is at least quite short.

Striding Folly by Dorothy L. Sayers: A-

Book description:
Lord Peter Wimsey’s last three baffling cases all demonstrate his unique detection skills at their most spectacular. The enigma of a house numbered thirteen in a street of even numbers. An indignant child accused of theft. A dream about a game of chess that uncovers the true story behind a violent death. Each of the stories introduces a different side of the twentieth century’s most ingenious detective hero.

Review:
Short as it is, Striding Folly is still, by far, my very favorite of the Lord Peter short story collections.

Of the three stories collected herein, the title story is of the least consequence. It’s chiefly about a country gentleman who is suspected of killing a neighbor who planned to sell his land to developers. Lord Peter comes in at the end and prevents a miscarriage of justice. The title, incidentally, refers to the more tangible sort of folly, that is “a whimsical or extravagant structure built to serve as a conversation piece [or] lend interest to a view.” This one happens to be located on a property known as Striding. I had always thought it referred to a bit of foolishness engaged in while ambling about.

In “The Haunted Policeman” we get our first glimpse of Lord Peter since the events of Busman’s Honeymoon. It’s just over a year since his marriage to Harriet, and Peter has just passed a sleepless night while his wife gives birth to their first son. Once all is declared well, his spirits are high and he desires some conversation, even though it’s three in the morning. A passing policeman fits the bill and tells Peter the story of how he came to be accused of drunkenness by his sergeant. The tale involves a murdered man inside a house numbered thirteen on a street with only even-numbered residences. Again, Lord Peter serves as a force of vindication. Though the solution to the mystery is fairly ridiculous, the depiction of Peter is really excellent. I love the notion that, when fretting especially about Harriet, he takes solace in the company of the servants, who allow him to polish the silver.

The second charmer in the collection is “Talboys.” A further six years have passed since the previous story and Peter and Harriet’s family has grown to contain three sons. The eldest, Bredon, confesses at the outset to having stolen two peaches from a neighbor. Peter punishes him and the matter is considered closed until the following morning, when all of the peaches are discovered missing. A visiting houseguest—friend to Peter’s notoriously censorious sister-in-law—persists in suspecting Bredon while Peter rather easily proves his innocence. Again, the mystery is not really the point here. Instead we get a truly wonderful portrait of Peter as father—always willing to have a roll with the dog, let his children clamber all over him, and participate in mischief. I might wish for more emphasis on Harriet in this situation, but her happiness is never in doubt.

Of all the Lord Peter stories, only these last two have ever tempted me to come back and read them again. I had wondered how any short story could provide a sense of closure to the Wimsey series, but in fact it works perfectly, since little time and effort need be expended upon a mystery which is only of secondary importance. I will probably end up reading Thrones, Dominations in the near future but I certainly see the rationale behind stopping here, too.

In the Teeth of the Evidence and Other Mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers: B

From the back cover:
A fleeing killer’s green mustache. A corpse clutching a note with misplaced vowels. A telephone with the unmistakable ring of death. A hopeful heir’s dreams of fortune done in when nature beats him to the punch. A playwright’s unwatered-down honor that is thicker than blood.

In each case, the murder baffles the local authorities. For his Lordship and the spirited salesman-sleuth Montague Egg, a corpse is an intriguing invitation to unravel the postmortem puzzles of fascinating falsehoods, mysterious motives, and diabolical demises.

Review:
In the Teeth of the Evidence and Other Mysteries is a collection of short stories, not all of them technically mysteries. Two feature Lord Peter Wimsey, five star Montague Egg, and the other eleven tell of wanted criminals, murderous relations, unpleasant smells, and more!

The two Lord Peter stories, “In the Teeth of the Evidence” and “Absolutely Elsewhere,” are not very exciting. They’re better than some of the Wimsey stories in previous collections, but coming off a novel like Busman’s Honeymoon in which Peter’s character is explored in greater depth than ever before, they seem incredibly lacking by comparison. It’s like we’re seeing a mere shadow of the person we’ve come to know, and anyone could have taken his place without altering the story one bit.

Montague Egg’s stories are somewhat more entertaining, although they share the common trait of ending abruptly. The focus here is on Egg’s cleverness, and once the clues have been interpreted to work out the method of the crime or the culprit, the stories tend to just stop. I suppose it isn’t really necessary to show the criminal being apprehended, and perhaps this would grow repetitive after a while, but the suddenness of the conclusions is jarring all the same.

The best and worst of the collection can be found in the stories with no detective character. Standouts include “The Milk-Bottles,” in which a week’s worth of milk bottles accumulating on a doorstep leads to suspicions of a terrible crime, and “Dilemma,” in which various tough decisions of the “which one would you save?” variety are debated. This last isn’t even a mystery at all, but just a really good story with a nice ending.

Several of the stories have amusing endings, in fact, though just as many have predictable ones, and a few seem absolutely determined never to end. One of the most tiresome for me was “Nebuchadnezzar,” which features a party attendee who becomes convinced that a group playing charades is about to reveal the fact that he murdered his wife. I think we spend too much time in his head as he freaks out, and it becomes annoying. Similarly, parts of “The Inspiration of Mr. Budd,” about a hairdresser who realizes that his customer is a wanted criminal, are irritating as the protagonist dithers about what to do, though this one redeems itself in the end.

While nowhere near as good or satisfying as a Wimsey novel, and barely offering anything about that noble sleuth, In the Teeth of the Evidence is still notable for containing some very good short stories by Sayers. I’m glad I read it.

Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers: B+

From the back cover:
Murder is hardly the best way for Lord Peter and his bride, the famous mystery writer Harriet Vane, to start their honeymoon. It all begins when the former owner of their newly acquired estate is found quite nastily dead in the cellar. And what Lord Peter had hoped would be a very private and romantic stay in the country soon turns into a most baffling case, what with the misspelled “notise” to the milkman and the intriguing condition of the dead man—not a spot of blood on his smashed skull and not a pence less than six hundred pounds in his pocket.

Review:
Busman’s Honeymoon is the final Lord Peter novel written exclusively by Dorothy L. Sayers. (Two collections of short stories follow, as well as a pair of novels completed by Jill Paton Walsh based on material written by Sayers.) Therefore, while there is a case to be solved, the real focus of the book is on giving beloved characters Peter and Harriet a fitting send-off.

After six years of struggle, Peter and Harriet have finally managed to get married and have gone off to Talboys, a country cottage in the village Harriet lived in as a child, for their honeymoon. Concerns about safely transporting Peter’s stock of port or unclogging some terribly sooty chimneys give way to investigation when the body of the former owner is discovered in the cellar.

There’s not actually a lot of emphasis on the case. Investigation mostly consists of some interviews, a few theories, and then sudden inspiration that leads to the reconstruction of the crime and a ready confession. At one point I was surprised to realize I was 75% of the way through the book and so little had actually happened on the detecting front. Instead, more attention is paid to Peter and Harriet as they make peace with being so happy, an emotion that actually produces some unease, and it’s a testament to the likability of these characters that reading about their contentment is actually interesting.

The end of the book is also fairly intriguing, though a bit odd. Peter catches the culprit, and that’s usually where these things end. This time, there’s a random visit to the Wimsey family home—complete with matter-of-fact discussion about ghostly residents—followed by a depiction of Peter’s descent into guilty despair because he has, through his efforts, sent someone to the gallows. We’ve heard about his dark moods before, but never really seen him in the throes of one. Harriet must learn how to deal with these episodes in a way that doesn’t belittle Peter and, indeed, much of the process of getting used to one another involves recognizing temptations to exert influence and forcing oneself to allow the other to remain fully independent.

As a final installment, it works pretty well. That said, though I had originally been on the fence as to whether to read the Sayers/Walsh novels, I now think that I won’t be able to resist getting another glimpse at the Wimseys. Heck, I don’t even need there to be a mystery, really. As Busman’s Honeymoon proved, with these characters, a case is not necessary for the result to be enjoyable.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers: A+

gaudynightFrom the back cover:
When Harriet Vane attends her Oxford reunion, known as the “Gaudy,” the prim academic setting is haunted by a rash of bizarre pranks: scrawled obscenities, burnt effigies, and poison-pen letters—including one that says, “Ask your boyfriend with the title if he likes arsenic in his soup.” Some of the notes threaten murder; all are perfectly ghastly; yet in spite of their scurrilous nature, all are perfectly worded. And Harriet finds herself ensnared in a nightmare of romance and terror, with only the tiniest shreds of clues to challenge her powers of detection, and those of her paramour, Lord Peter Wimsey.

Review:
I’m trying to recall precisely when I first heard of Gaudy Night. It must’ve been somewhere around 2001 or 2002, because my first attempt to read the Wimsey series (I couldn’t just jump straight to the penultimate novel, after all!) occurred early in 2002. In any case, here is a book I’ve been waiting to read for at least eight years and, unlike so much else in life, it completely lived up to (and even exceeded) my expectations.

Because I blindly accepted the accounts of this book’s excellence, I didn’t read much about it before its time came. Therefore, it was an exceedingly pleasant surprise that the narrative is told from the point of view of Harriet Vane, a mystery novelist and long-time object of Wimsey’s affections. After discovering a couple of disturbing messages when attending her Oxford reunion, Harriet is later called back to the college to conduct a discreet investigation. While investigating the origins of poison-pen letters, foiling pranks, and settling into the academic life once more, Harriet also engages in many conversations with the members of the Senior Common Room on the virtues of a life devoted to scholarship as opposed to the traditional womanly duties, and uses the experience of her former schoolmates to help form conclusions about whether marriage is worth it. The overall message is an unapologetically feminist one, though some characters do persist in advocating for stereotypical gender roles.

Of course, this isn’t the first book to present Harriet’s point of view. Have His Carcase is similar, but it’s more breezy and amusing. This time, it feels like we really get to know Harriet inside and out and understand exactly what it is that keeps her from accepting Peter’s marriage proposals: her belief that she has so thoroughly messed up attempts at love (Peter first meets her in Strong Poison when she is on trial for killing her lover) that she had better give up, and, most strongly, the pesky feelings of gratitude toward Peter that would forever keep them on unequal footing. As fond as she is of Peter, she can’t really believe he would be happy with her or treat her as an equal, and it’s in this novel that he finally, finally manages to convince her that both are true.

Eventually, Harriet reaches a point in the case where it’s necessary to call for Peter’s assistance and it’s here that she begins to compare the kind of marriage he would offer as opposed to the variety more normally encountered. For example, Peter doesn’t want a sweet, uncritical, and dependent spouse: he wants an honest and independent one. “Anybody can have the harmony,” he says, giving voice to a lovely musical metaphor, “if they will leave us the counterpoint.” It takes a little bit for this to sink in, however. Instead of trying to dissuade Harriet from continuing the investigation when her life is in jeopardy, for example, Peter teaches her self-defense moves. He basically encourages all the independence she could ask for and more, giving her the freedom to risk the life she still believes she owes to him. Lastly, he reveals more of his own weaknesses, showing that he’s flawed and human, too. At last she realizes that he truly means to accept her as she is and when Peter proposes one last time, she accepts.

While the disturbances on campus and Harriet’s investigation are truly fascinating—I’m thinking particularly of the fabulous scene where the culprit is dashing about removing fuses from all of the buildings and casting everyone into darkness—it really is the relationship between these two that shines most brightly. In terms of intelligence and independence, Harriet and Peter perhaps the closest thing 20th century literature has to a couple like Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Without them, Gaudy Night would’ve earned a solid A, which is nothing to sneer at.

Reiterating that Gaudy Night is highly recommended is unnecessary at this point, but I do advise reading at least the Wimsey novels that have been linked to here before tackling it so as to have a better idea as to the origins of Harriet and Peter’s relationship and how they’ve circled around one another for the last five years. That’ll make the novel’s conclusion all the more satisfying.

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers: B

theninetailorsFrom the back cover:
The nine tellerstrokes from the belfry of an ancient country church toll out the death of an unknown man and call the famous Lord Peter Wimsey to confront and contemplate the good and evil that lurks in all of life and in every human’s actions. Steeped in the atmosphere of a quiet parish in the strange, flat fen country of East Anglia, this is a tale of suspense, character, and mood by an author critics and readers rate as one of the great masters of the mystery novel.

Review:
Before I checked The Nine Tailors out of my local library, I was laboring under the misapprehension that it would feature a nonet of suit-making suspects. Imagine my surprise when instead of haberdashery, I got campanology, as the title actually refers to the nine tolls of a church’s largest bell (dubbed Tailor Paul) that announce the death of a male adult in the parish.

When Lord Peter Wimsey is stranded in the village of Fenchurch St. Paul over New Year’s Eve while awaiting repairs to his car, he is drafted by the kindly yet absentminded rector to fill in for a sick man for a nine-hour spate of change ringing to celebrate the new year. Wimsey proceeds on his way the following day, but when a body turns up in the parish some months later, the rector writes to ask whether he would be willing to assist the local investigators. Although the cause of death cannot be determined, it’s obvious that the body didn’t find its way into someone else’s freshly dug grave on its own. Wimsey is intrigued and very quickly works out that the case might have something to do with a jewel theft that occurred 20 years ago.

On the whole, I found The Nine Tailors to be an entertaining read. It doesn’t provide any new character development for Wimsey—he doesn’t seem to show much emotion when Harriet Vane’s not around—but offers a nicely puzzling mystery in a quaint and unusual setting. While I found the identity of the dead man relatively easy to guess, I was genuinely surprised by the ultimate solution. Two things dimmed my enjoyment of the title somewhat. First, each chapter is prefaced by an instructional quote about change ringing and egad, are these passages both boring and confusing! Second, the local official seems to be a bad influence on Lord Peter, because the two of them together spend a great amount of time concocting various scenarios that would make all the clues fit together. I’m sure that’s human nature and all that, but I suppose I subscribe to Sherlock Holmes’ caution against theorizing in advance of the facts.

Gaudy Night is finally next, and I’m feeling pretty giddy about that, though I really hope I don’t find it disappointing after hearing so much good about it. You may expect a review before the year is out!

The Floating Admiral by Certain Members of the Detection Club: B-

TheFloatingAdmiralBook description:
In 1932, thirteen members of London’s exclusive Detection Club—including notables like Dorothy L. Sayers, G. K. Chesteron, and Agatha Christie—decided to undertake a challenging project. As Sayers writes in her introduction, “The problem was made to approach as closely as possible to a problem of real detection. Except in the case of Mr. Chesteron’s picturesque Prologue, which was written last, each contributor tackled the mystery presented to him in the preceding chapters without having the slightest idea what solution or solutions the previous authors had in mind.” Various rules were imposed upon the authors to insure they dealt fairly with the difficulties left by their predecessors, and each author was required to submit his own proposed solution of the mystery (collected in an appendix). The end product was the story of the River Whyn, which “bore so peacefully between its flowery banks the body of the floating admiral.”

Review:
When the body of retired Admiral Penistone (it took me ages to stop giggling at that name) is found drifting along the River Whyn in the vicar’s boat, the investigation, led by Inspector Rudge, focuses primarily on his tough-as-nails niece, her fiancé turned sudden husband, and a disgraceful incident earlier in the Admiral’s military career. Each of the thirteen writers throws in some other random clues as well, be they footprints, missing documents, possible forgeries, et cetera.

The result is surprisingly coherent for something with so many collaborators. Occasionally, there’s a bit of a jolt as a new hand takes over and bends events to their own interpretation, but it’s usually not too jarring (see next paragraph for an exception). One, perhaps unintended, result is that there’s more of an emphasis on explaining the meaning of strange clues than on crafting memorable characters. Rudge’s personality changes a bit in early chapters and eventually settles on simply bland. The author who finally brings a human touch to the story is Dorothy L. Sayers; I’d say her chapter’s the best of the lot and does the most to set the mystery on its ultimate path.

While most transitions are relatively seamless, one particular author, Milward Kennedy, seemingly sets out with the aim to correct what has gone before. Under his stewardship, Rudge doubts testimony he’d previously accepted and suddenly realizes, “Hey, I have a constable and a sergeant sitting around back at the boathouse. Maybe they could do something instead of me running all over the place myself.” It’s a necessary redirection, but the execution is rather awkward.

The lengthy final chapter offers a convoluted explanation for all that has gone before. It’s not really a satisfying ending—I can’t decide whether it’s ingenious or just silly—but it hangs together, at least, which is to be admired.

As a mystery and a novel, The Floating Admiral is merely okay. As an experiment, though, it’s a qualified success.

Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers: B

murderadvertiseFrom the back cover:
When ad man Victor Dean falls down the stairs in the offices of Pym’s Publicity, a respectable London advertising agency, it looks like an accident. Then Lord Peter Wimsey is called in, and he soon discovers there’s more to copywriting than meets the eye. A bit of cocaine, a hint of blackmail, and some wanton women can be read between the lines. And then there is the brutal succession of murders—five of them—each one a fixed fee for advertising a deadly secret.

Review:
Murder Must Advertise finds Lord Peter Wimsey infiltrating an advertising agency and investigating whether a man was killed for knowing too much. He assumes the identity of his (fictional) disreputable cousin, Death Bredon, for the purpose and, in the course of his probe, also dons the costume of a harlequin in an attempt to extract information from a notoriously drug-addled woman. Some of the story is told from the perspectives of outsiders who encounter Peter in these guises, paving the way for long entries about office squabbles and excruciatingly detailed passages about cricket matches (in which Lord Peter saves the day, of course). Sayers also works in a good deal of criticism of the advertising profession and how it preys on the poor by purporting to offer them luxury at an affordable price.

This mystery isn’t bad, but something about it didn’t click with me. I think the problem is that I’m used to knowing more about the case going in, what Peter is thinking, that sort of thing. This time his actions are more mysterious, particularly as regards his aims with the whole harlequin masquerade, and sometimes lost me a bit. Too, though the latter half of the book seems to focus more on the drug trade issue (I believe that by this point Peter already had the murderer pegged), in the end the resulotion to the drug plot occurs entirely off camera and the identity of the much sought-after kingpin turns out to be rather disappointing.

Maybe the real problem is that I miss the repartee between Peter and Harriet. Oh well, only one more to go before Gaudy Night!

Hangman’s Holiday by Dorothy L. Sayers: B-

hangmansBook description:
Amusing and absolutely appalling things happen on the way to the gallows when murder meets Lord Peter Wimsey and the delightful working-class sleuth Montague Egg. This sumptuous feast of criminal doings and undoings includes a vintage double identity and a horrid incident of feline assassination that will tease the minds of cat lovers everywhere. Not to be missed are “The Incredible Elopement of Peter Wimsey” (with a lovely American woman-turned-zombie) and eight more puzzlers penned in inimitable style by the mistress of murder.

Review:
I’m really not much of a fan of short stories in any case, but was significantly underwhelmed by most of the tales in this collection. The first four stories feature Lord Peter Wimsey, and feature either silly quasi-supernatural plots (“The Image in the Mirror” and “The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey”) or near-identical scenarios of a crime occuring while Peter is attending festivities with a small group of suspects (“The Queen’s Square” and “The Necklace of Pearls”). None is very good.

The next six stories feature salesman-turned-sleuth, Montague Egg, who seems to have a knack for turning up just after someone has died or sharing a pub with a wanted man. He has an eye for detail honed during his occupational duties—Mr. Egg is a big one for refining his skills and continually quotes rhyming maxims from The Salesman’s Handbook, like “the goodwill of the maid is nine-tenths of the trade”—and assists police in discovering the relevant facts of the case. I liked these stories a bit better than those starring Lord Peter, particularly “Maher-Shalal-Hashbaz,” which I thought I might dislike on account of being a sensitive cat lover, though they have a strange tendency to end after the culprit is identified but not yet confronted with his/her crimes.

The best stories of the lot are actually the last two, which star no sleuth at all. In “The Man Who Knew How,” our protagonist, Pender, meets a fellow on the train who claims to know the perfect, untraceable murder method that makes victims appear to’ve died in their baths. Pender keeps running into the same fellow in the vicinity of where such deaths have occurred and takes it upon himself to become an avenger. In “The Fountain Plays,” a refined gentleman with a secret does the unthinkable to protect it. Both end in unexpected ways and seem to be rather more clever than their predecessors. I’m not sure whether they were written later, or whether each received a little more polish on account of acting as a stand-alone piece, but I definitely liked them the best.

Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers: B

havehiscarcaseFrom the back cover:
The mystery writer Harriet Vane, recovering from an unhappy love affair and its aftermath, seeks solace on a barren beach—deserted but for the body of a bearded young man with his throat cut. From the moment she photographs the corpse, which soon disappears with the tide, she is puzzled by a mystery that might have been suicide, murder, or a political plot. With the appearance of her dear friend Lord Peter Wimsey, she finds a reason for detective pursuit—as only the two of them can pursue it.

Review:
On the one hand, Have His Carcase is nothing short of delightful. Upon learning that his beloved Harriet Vane has discovered a body upon a stretch of coastline, Lord Peter dashes to the scene with a stated claim of interest in the case, though he is really there to defend Harriet, lately the defendant in a notorious murder trial and likely to be suspected on that account. When the local police force seems content with a verdict of suicide, Peter and Harriet proceed to work together to prove the victim was murdered. He still loves her and often cavalierly asks her to marry him, but she steadfastly refuses. While the banter between them is brisk, witty, and wonderful, the most emotional moments are really the best, like when Peter confesses that he camouflages his proposals in flippancy because he can’t bear to see the repulsed reaction a genuine query would engender.

Sayers sets the scene for these two right at the start in a highly amusing way that I must quote out of admiration for its economical humor:

The best remedy for a bruised heart is not, as so many people seem to think, repose upon a manly bosom. Much more efficacious are honest work, physical activity, and the sudden acquisition of wealth… Harriet Vane found all three specifics abundantly at her disposal; and although Lord Peter Wimsey, with a touching faith in tradition, persisted day in and day out in presenting the bosom for her approval, she showed no inclination to recline upon it.

Significantly less delightful, alas, is the investigation itself. This aspect of the book definitely has attributes to recommend it—I had no idea who’d really done the deed and had even begun to think perhaps Sayers would conclude by saying, “What do you know, it really was suicide!”—but bogs down a lot in lengthy passages spent decoding ciphers or tracking down innumerable townsfolk possessed with an uncanny ability to remember the precise time they saw a certain gentleman get into a Bentley. Cracking the case hinges on the time of death, so a lot of emphasis is placed on alibis and many theories are advanced that attempt to make all of the random clues work together. It’s kind of interesting, but does get rather tiresome after a while.

Still, it’s a solid mystery and I am satisfied that some progress was made in tempting Harriet to reconsider the merits of the Wimsey bosom.