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The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by…
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The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)

by Dorothy L. Sayers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lord Peter Wimsey (5)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,307583,937 (3.87)156
  1. 10
    Clubbed to Death by Ruth Dudley Edwards (BookGirlVL)
    BookGirlVL: Amateur sleuth, Robert Amiss is persuaded (or coerced?) to go undercover as a waiter in the gentlemen's club ffeatherstonehaughs (pronounced Fanshaws). The club is run by and for debauched, overly well-fed geriatrics, yet serves a suspiciously small clientele. To add to the bizarre circumstances, the club secretary has fallen to his death from the gallery. Is it suicide or murder? Not quite as erudite as Sayers, but similarly witty nonetheless!… (more)
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» See also 156 mentions

English (54)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
One of the earlier Lord Peter Wimsey novels, and the only one which I hadn’t read. (I haven’t read all the short stories, either.)

The elderly General Fentiman is discovered dead behind his newspaper at his London club. Some time later Wimsey is asked by the family’s solicitor to see if he can discover more precisely the time when General died, as the General’s sister also died that morning and her Will varies depending upon who survived whom.

I enjoyed the novelty of an investigation which doesn’t begin as a whodunit, and enjoyed wondering if (and if so, how) it might turn into a murder investigation. Also interesting is that several of the characters - not just Wimsey - fought in the war, and this has affected them in different ways.

Somewhere in the middle I began to find the clue-gathering a bit dry, but then the plot twisted in ways I hadn’t expected. There were more scenes which reminded me of the Sayers who wrote Gaudy Night. While there are women connected to the case, the Bellona Club is a wholly masculine world, and earlier on the women are often pushed to the edges. But when they do take centre stage, it’s in a way gives takes them and their concerns seriously, and highlights the way they have been mistreated or misrepresented by others. I’m not sure if Sayers is completely successful here -- I suppose, when she wrote this wasn’t yet exactly the person, or perhaps more accurately she wasn’t the writer, she was seven years later -- but it makes the novel potentially reread-able (for me).

I suspect I am much more interested in Lord Peter as a person than I am in Wimsey as a detective. It is hard to separate the two, and then of course I’m usually most interested in the bits about detectives’ personal lives and opinions and so on... But what I appreciate most about Lord Peter Wimsey has a lot less to do with his his skills of deduction and investigation, and more to do with just how he talks to people -- his faculty for quotation, his intelligence and the way he respects others. (Would I be interested in a crime-free novel in which he goes to parties and talks to people about whatever is going on in their lives? Maybe?)

“[...] It’s the books and paintings I want to look at. H’m! Books, you know, Charles, are like lobster-shells. We surround ourselves with ’em and leave ’em behind, as evidences of our earlier stages of development.” ( )
  Herenya | Apr 10, 2018 |
Sayers portrays the time so well, in this case Armistice Day, 1928: young men were still suffering shell-shock while the elder gentry snoozed in clubs. Peter Wimsey is a wonderful character, intelligent, compassionate and observant, the perfect qualities for a sleuth. Everyone melts in his presence. This is a good mystery story, of course, but the characters, setting, and Sayers' writing make this a winner. ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Oct 14, 2017 |
Holds up well in rereading. The plot has interesting twists and turns and the characters are well drawn. This early Lord Peter is still a fairly frivolous seeming gentleman, but he displays incisive intelligence in questioning witnesses and suspects. Several years ago I cited this novel in a conference paper rebutting the idea that Golden Age mysteries ignored the condition of society. A mystery set in a men's club for military gentlemen is very clear on the physical and mental damage done to the veterans of WWI and their disappointment in the society to which they had returned. From the fathers giving commemorative dinners for the comrades of sons lost in the war, to the shell shocked George Fentiman, to Tin-Tummy Challoner, to the numerous women who will never find husbands, the England of Dorothy Sayers has been heavily marked by the war. ( )
  ritaer | Jun 22, 2017 |
48/150 ( )
  moonlight_reads | Dec 11, 2016 |
Delightful little murder mystery in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. Old General Fentiman comes to the Bellona Club every morning at 10 AM, spends the entire day in his favorite chair by the fireplace, and goes home every evening at 5 PM. A bit of ‘unpleasantness’ occurs when the old general is discovered dead in his chair around noon one day. It appears that this is just the sad case of a 90 year-old man dying a natural death. But then it is discovered that there is a will involved, and a sizeable fortune depends on the exact time of death. Club member Lord Peter is asked to quietly investigate and avoid a scandal in the anachronistic club. ( )
  ramon4 | Nov 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

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
Casas, FloraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
George, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffini, Grazia MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lohse, GudrunTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luho, HelenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martens, Hilda MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palmiste, EndelKujundaja.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Torim, MilviKujundaja.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the main work for The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. It should not be combined with any adaptation, abridgement, etc.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061043540, Mass Market Paperback)

90-year-old General Fendman was definitely dead, but no one knew exactly when he had died -- and the time of death was the determining factor in a half-million-pound inheritance. Lord Peter Wimsey would need every bit of his amazing skills to unravel the mysteries of why the General's lapel was without a red poppy on Armistice Day, how the club's telephone was fixed without a repairman, and, most puzzling of all, why the great man's knee swung freely when the rest of him was stiff with rigor mortis.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:47 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Lord Peter Wimsey's investigation of the suspicious death of General Fentiman takes him from London to Paris and back to the Bellona Club. 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 club, is lying?… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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