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Unnatural Death (1927)

de Dorothy L. Sayers

Outros autores: Veja a seção outros autores.

Séries: Lord Peter Wimsey (3)

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3,171844,223 (3.83)271
Fiction. Mystery. HTML: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?

Unnatural Death is the 3rd book in the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, but you may enjoy the series by reading the books in any order.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dorothy L. Sayers including rare images from the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College..
… (mais)
  1. 02
    Macbeth de William Shakespeare (themulhern)
    themulhern: The crucial murder of one old person bring a sequence of additional murders in its stead.
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  davidrgrigg | Mar 23, 2024 |
I remembered virtually nothing about this book other than the instrument of murder; certainly I'd forgotten (or never noticed?) it was lesbians all the way down.

I think Unnatural Death is Sayers' first attempt at more of a noir/suspense plot, and it's not particularly to my taste. That said, there is some thoughtful exploration of gender roles as a counterpoint to ruthless murder lesbians, including a portrayal of a happy same-sex relationship and the introduction of the inimitable Miss Climpton, who despite her social conservatism is wistful not just because she is a woman of no importance, but because she ought to have been a lawyer. I was also tickled when Sayers suggests police detectives be replaced with middle-aged spinsters, which is surely police reform we can all get behind.

Race, inheritance laws, and social class are also explored in this book; Sayers asks some really interesting questions about who deserves to be counted as family or given access to economic and social power, and how legislation is used to enforce social norms. Unfortunately Sayers can't talk about race without reproducing her characters' truly cringeworthy attitudes; she may be critiquing them, but they're still our heroes, and the racial slurs and cavalier attitude toward racist policing do not make for fun reading in 2020.

Equally unfortunate is that all of this interesting subtext is a backdrop for a deeply boring murderer who has something of the theatricality of a Sherlock Holmes villain, but none of the psychological nuance. I liked the medical aspects of the mystery, but at the end of the day the murder plot felt like a lot of trope-y, homophobic silliness. It's Sayers, so it's still a decent time, but this is definitely not a novel that's aged well. ( )
  raschneid | Dec 19, 2023 |
Really great mystery featuring a very rollicking adventure. The solution isn't just pulled out of a hat (you can work it all out along the way - maybe not beyond doubt but I'd worked out most of it quite a bit before the end) and is pretty interesting (although the murderer's initial murder and motive is kind of strange, even if the facts work out ok). Somewhat formulaic but really excellent writing for the genre, with enjoyable dialogue and great characters. There's some serious stuff - lesbian relationships, most obviously - that are dealt with pretty well and though Sayers doesn't avoid injecting her own morality regarding them into the book she's remarkably delicate about it and never condemns lesbians - I mean the portrayal is hardly that great and relies on stereotypes but it's never cruel and it comes across pretty well, at least in my opinion.

HOWEVER, as multiple other people have pointed out, there's a really iffy bit. A black character is referred to using the n-word. This is reported by another character in a letter, who places the word in quotes and pretty clearly indicates their distate for it - although probably not clearly enough, and it's obviously really disgusting to see whatever. The character is minor except for a later part where there's a short bit about the media's racist smear campaign against him. Another person goes into why this is pretty iffy in detail but basically the police use him as bait to try and snare the real criminal. Unbelievably dodgy and dangerous. Otherwise the way he's talked about isn't racist, outside of maybe some patronising descriptions and one or two people leaping to bad conclusions based on racism - I don't really think Wimsey himself comes across as racist. But it's still pretty bad. It's the sort of thing that'd probably be considered particularly well done 90 years ago but now looks pretty shameful. I don't think it destroys the book because the racism is, imo, disapproved of within text but that's not shown clearly and I'd find it hard recommending the book without qualifications for that.

Following is some rambling on the main plot point cause I felt it was a bit weak if you thought about it but not a big deal: Why did the murderer feel the need to murder her great-aunt at all? The whole plot hinges around the law change changing how inheritance works for those who die without a will. Yet the lawyers we read are all unsure on what exactly the impact will be. The opinion the murderer gets is basically "it's unclear what will happen and you might lose out, BUT if it's clear that the intention of the dead woman was to give her money to you then you'll almost certainly get at least a very large chunk of the money. in addition, you might just get it all anyway, depending on how the law is interpreted by the courts". As far as I know, she didn't know of any other possible claimants - or rather, we know of one, but he was ineligible and it's likely that the murderer's research showed that too. So the murderer murdered to guard against a very unlikely circumstance (a court deciding that the money should go the crown, even with a next of kin). Regardless of the law's wording, I can't imagine it even getting to that point - hardly anyone even seems to know about the law so it's unlikely whoever decides the fate of the aunt's estate would know or notice any problem. I guess you could say she was just someone who wanted certainty, but it still seems a bit extreme. I just expect the author to set it up a bit better, y'know? It could easily be resolved with a few lines ( )
  tombomp | Oct 31, 2023 |
Lord Peter takes the cases - murders most foul. A good deal of droll comedy thrown into this mystery involving the detective, his partner in crime at Scotland Yard and the ever ready butler Bunter. ( )
  dbsovereign | Oct 3, 2023 |
It's been over a decade since I read the first two Lord Peter Wimsey novels, and reading this one, which my wife acquired second hand in an eyewatering bilious-green edition from 1976, had me lamenting my wasted years. Or it might be that Sayers is getting into her stride and improving with every outing; I hope so. There's a lot going on here narratively and thematically. I love redoubtable "odd woman" (in Gissing's sense) Miss Climpson, with her exuberant epistolary style, and Wimsey's tapping into the pool of two million "excess women" to gather intelligence far outside his own ambit. I love the portrayal in backstory of the 19th century lesbian couple, one a successful horse breeder, the other the homemaker who ends up as the book's initial victim. There's lesbianism throughout the book, although as the top GoodReads review (by Dorothea, in case that changes) says, it's not always portrayed so fondly. But I wonder if our villainess is really lesbian or just a cold fish? She's certainly pretty chilling. I was also very struck (surely not stricken) by Sayers' moral/religious commentary in this one. It's brief but quite profound, Miss Climpson agonising over whether to betray the secrets of the confessional (she stumbles across some preparatory notes) in search of a crucial clue, and the atheistic Wimsey doing some productive soul-searching with a Catholic priest. Wimsey and his Watson, Det. Charles Parker (and Sayers has plenty of fun with the Holmes inspo) are on top form and the former finds himself in real jeopardy during a standout scene in between quoting liberally from Shakespeare, Romantics et al, driving like a wanker and generally sleuthing the shit out of things in a noble-foppish way... ( )
  yarb | Sep 14, 2023 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (14 possíveis)

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Sayers, Dorothy L.autor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Bayer, OttoTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Bleck, CathieArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Carmichael, IanNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Crowley, DonArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Damkoehler, KatrinaDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
George, ElizabethIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Griffini, Grazia MariaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Michal, MarieArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Relander, InkeriTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
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"But if he thought the woman was being murdered—"
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[Afterword] The year 1920 is the generally accepted dawn of the Golden Age of detective fiction.
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Fiction. Mystery. HTML: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?

Unnatural Death is the 3rd book in the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, but you may enjoy the series by reading the books in any order.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dorothy L. Sayers including rare images from the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College..

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813Literature English (North America) American fiction

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