Many of you know that I am a die-hard fan of Dorothy L. Sayers. I recently reread Strong Poison. It is relatively early in her series. Needless to say, some of the language is dated. (It was published about 80 years ago, after all.) I hadn’t actually read Sayers in well over a decade. But in rereading, I found that my long-standing admiration is more than warranted.
In Strong Poison, she solved a poisoning case in a most ingenious way, and incidentally educated the reader about interesting twists and details about arsenical poisoning. In clearing the prime suspect, Wimsey not only found the real killer, but coincidentally developed a passion for the acquitted suspect that became a subplot going forward.
Have His Carcass is the next novel in which the love interest develops. But the thing to note about this book is that knowing how it turns out, I can recognize, as I couldn’t on the first read, all the red herrings and dead-end hypotheses AND appreciate all the dropped clues and bits and pieces that make the reader say, “Of course!” when the solution is revealed. Sayers is a must-read for mystery writers!
Injunction for readers: Revisit an old love—preferably one you haven’t read for five years or more. Knowing what happens, you can reread an old favorite and evaluate the craft. Do you still love it? Why or why not? As we approach the new year, appreciate the past.