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Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers

Have His Carcase (edition 1995)

by Dorothy L. Sayers

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2,662513,256 (4.01)191
Title:Have His Carcase
Authors:Dorothy L. Sayers
Info:HarperTorch (1995), Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages

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Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers

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English (47)  Danish (2)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
First published at Booking in Heels.

If you’re planning on picking up this series based on my soon-to-be glowing review, don’t start with Have His Carcase, much as I loved it. Why? Possibly perhaps it’s the eighth book in a fourteen book long series. It was fine, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t particularly struggle. Each book is a self-contained murder mystery, so although there were a few references to the previous books, it really didn’t matter. Still, you may as well go in with the knowledge that you should be starting with Whose Body?

Alright. So, firstly, these books (I say this like I haven’t only read one book, but I am clearly now an expert) are much more dense than the Agatha Christie novels. There’s more character development, more clues and more background. The characters discuss things, and mull over the issues, a lot more frequently and occasionally the scenery is even discussed. I know, right!? In a mystery! I’m as shocked as you! Whilst it’s clearly not a heavy or difficult novel by any stretch of the imagination, Have His Carcase can’t really be skim read. You need to pay attention or you won’t have the faintest idea what was going on.

On that note, I did appreciate the frequent summing-ups (summings-up?). Every so often, the characters will get together for a quick ‘so here’s where we are…’ discussion that really helped me to keep everything straight in my head. There was no baker’s niece’s lover who was mentioned on page three but popped up at the end and you’re meant to remember who he is. It seems very… planned, very cautious.

As for the murder itself… eh. I wasn’t all that bothered about who had murdered Alexis, but then are you ever really? Usually the victim is dead before the reader ever wanders onto the scene, so it’s quite difficult to drudge up a sense of compassion for them. Unlike Agatha Christie, you pretty much knew who did it the whole way through. In these books (alright, this book), the point isn’t who did it, but how they could possibly have done so. Because of that, there was no gasp of amazement when the culprit was revealed because hey, I knew that.

The method by which they discovered this was clever, and that’s as descriptive as I can possibly be without being spoilery. You’ll know what I mean when you read it. I’ve never seen that used in this way before and the nod to history was a nice touch.

The characters have more padding out than in other books of this ilk too. Lord Peter Whimsy is the clear show-stealer here, as he’s meant to be. I love him. He’s confident but not cocky, clever but able to admit when he’s wrong, and flirtatious but not creepy. Even if I skim over any part that suggests he has a monocle. I mean… come on. A girl has her limits. Harriet Vane is likeable too, and actually has a personality. She contributes effectively to the investigation and isn’t shy about getting stuck in either.

There’s an overarching romantic subplot that I think must continue throughout the series, but it’s only referenced every so often, and very subtey. I actually liked it; it was cute. But if it’s not your thing, I don’t think it will affect your enjoyment as it’s very playful and not at all angsty.

In short, I’d really recommend this series, or at least this book. For all I know, the others are terrible, but I doubt it. I’ll certainly be reading the remainder very shortly. ( )
1 vote generalkala | Sep 1, 2018 |
Harriet Vane, the famous detective novelist and infamous murder suspect (recently acquitted), is on a walking tour of British coastal villages. One afternoon she has a picnic on the beach and drops off to sleep. When she awakens, she is shocked to discover the body of a dead man farther along the beach. The man’s throat has been cut, but there is only one set of footprints (which must belong to the corpse), so suicide is a possibility. But Harriet can’t help thinking it might be murder. She photographs the body — which will be washed away when the tide comes in — and goes for help. But much to Harriet’s chagrin, help eventually arrives in the form of Lord Peter Wimsey, whose eagerness to solve the mystery is compounded by his desire to spend more time with Harriet. As the two join forces to solve the mystery, they also struggle to define the nature and boundaries of their relationship.

The more I read of Dorothy L. Sayers, the more I come to realize that she is emphatically NOT for everyone. This book is a Golden Age mystery, but it’s far from a typical one. Sayers is unquestionably familiar with the tropes of the genre — indeed, Peter and Harriet have some fun mocking them in this book — but she doesn’t seem particularly interested in following them herself. As with many of her other books, the “whodunit” is not the main concern; rather, she spends most of her time setting up a seemingly impossible crime, then explaining at length how it was possible after all. It’s clever, but I must confess that it didn’t hold my attention. A chapter near the end, where Peter and Harriet decode a letter and painstakingly explain how the code works, is especially dull.

However, I still really liked this book, and the reason is that I’m fascinated by the development of the relationship between Peter and Harriet. There’s one scene in particular, where they leave aside their usual polite banter and express their real emotions, that hit me right in the gut. Much as my romantic heart wants them to get together, I completely understand Harriet’s ambivalence and her struggle to maintain her independence in the face of Peter’s relentless pursuit. I’m extremely eager to read Gaudy Night now, but since I’m going in publication order, I have a couple books in between. I think that when I reread the series (as I undoubtedly will), I’ll group all the Peter-and-Harriet books together.
2 vote christina_reads | Aug 22, 2018 |
Harriet Vine is on a walking holiday, and finds a freshly dead body on a deserted beach. This one was had too many twists, and hard to keep track of.the characters involved. ( )
  sail7 | Oct 27, 2017 |
This mystery was good - not a straightforward, easy-to-solve one - but some parts lingered on for longer than I would have liked. I love codes and codebreaking, but even so, some of the discussions about solving the code were just way too long. The banter between Wimsey and Harriet was good. More of that, please! ( )
  Lindoula | Sep 25, 2017 |
Summary: While on a walking tour of the seacoast around Devon, Harriet Vane finds a man whose throat has been slit recently on some rocks. Lord Peter Wimsey eventually joins her and they find clues aplenty and possible suspects, yet none appears to have done it.

After being found innocent of poisoning a former love interest, with the help of Lord Peter Wimsey, Harriet Vane embarks on a walking tour of the Devon seacoast. This particular day finds her on the road from Lesston Hoe to Wilvercombe, a seaside resort favored by elderly women. She detours to the beach for a snatch of reading and some lunch and dozes off. She wakens to a cry shortly after 2 pm. On waking she explores the beach further and spots something that looks like a man sleeping on a flat rock by the shore. As she approaches, she finds that it is a man, but he is not sleeping, but dead, of a slit throat with a razor lying at the base of the rock. The tide is rising, she is several miles distant from the nearest town, and the rock and body will soon be submerged. She carefully examines the body, finding the blood liquid and not clotted, pointing to a recent murder. Perhaps the cry she thought was a bird was this man’s last cry. She takes a number of pictures and collects the razor and sets off to find help and report the murder.

After numerous detours, she makes it to Wilvercombe, reports the dead body, and as a shrewd writer building a reputation, leaks the story to the press. Because of this, Lord Peter Wimsey learns of her whereabouts, and comes to help explore what the authorities believe a suicide of a Russian emigre’, Paul Alexis. Both Vane and Wimsey think otherwise and come across a number of clues that raise questions. Why did he take his life when he was engaged to a rich widow? Why did he by a two way ticket to the town nearest the rock where he was found, and why did he go there? Who was the mysterious Mr. Martin camping near the beach? What about Mr. Bright, the barber who had “provided” the razor that slit Alexis throat? Who was he really? Why was there a ring recently placed in the rock where Alexis died? Why did Alexis convert his savings to gold sovereigns, found in a waist belt on his dead body? How did the horse in the meadow near where Martin camped lose its shoe? Who was the mysterious woman, ‘Feodora,’ in the photo found on Alexis body? What was the role of the rich widow’s son, a struggling landholder, in all of this, despite his alibi? What was the content and significance of the letter in cipher found in Alexis’ pocket?

Each chapter adds new evidence yet seems to bring Wimsey, Vane, and the authorities no closer to a solution. Suicide, if not the best explanation seems the most convenient. Or perhaps Mrs. Weldon’s explanation that he was knocked off by some “mysterious Bolsheviks” is not so incredible after all. None of the other suspects could possibly have been at the rock at the time of the murder.

Nor does all their sleuthing bring them any closer together, despite Wimsey’s repeated “proposals”, which seemed an annoying distraction not only to Vane, but also this reader. Nevertheless, it is great good fun to see these two amateur detectives piecing together the puzzle of this mystery. And one can always hope for the future.

Along the way, we perhaps get a bit of social commentary as well. The women entertained by gigolos at the resorts make us reckon with the sadness of wealth without people to share it or a purpose to live for other than self-indulgence. One readily understands the eagerness of both Vane and Wimsey to clear out when it is all over.

Take this one to the beach or into a comfy hammock and enjoy! ( )
  BobonBooks | Aug 1, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sayers, Dorothy L.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bayer, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bergvall, SonjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bleck, CathieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carmichael, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
George, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffini, Grazia MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juva, KerstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ledwidge, NatachaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marber, RomekCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michal, MarieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Næsted, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The best remedy for a bruised heart is not, as so many people seem to think, repose upon a manly bosom.
"I have seen unpleasant cases, difficult cases, complicated cases, and even contradictory cases, but a case founded on stark unreason I have never met before."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061043524, Mass Market Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:22 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Mystery novelist Harriet Vane, recovering from an unhappy love affair and its most unpleasant aftermath, seeks solace on a barren beach deserted but for one notable exception: 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 easily have been a suicide, a murder, or a political plot. With the appearance of her dear friend Lord Peter Wimsey, however, Harriet finds yet another reason to pursue the mystery, as only the two of them can pursue it.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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