Tuesday, 2 October 2012
86. "Busman's Honeymoon" by Dorothy L. Sayers
Date begun: September 19th, 2012
Date finished: September 25th, 2012
Busman's Honeymoon is the thirteenth book about Lord Peter Wimsey. While you don't need to have read many of the others, the book will be better if you've at least read Gaudy Night. Also, this review will contain some spoilers for that book, so be warned.
The book opens with a number of letters, diary entries and the like written by friends and family members of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, and through these the readers get insight into the preparation for their wedding, and get to witness the wedding itself. The actual story of the book begins when the happy couple are on their way to their honeymoon at an old farmhouse Lord Peter has bought for Harriet. Having been hounded by the press constantly, neither Lord Wimsey or his faithful manservant Bunter has been able to go to Talboys (the house) and get it ready for their arrival.
As a result, the house is dark and closed up when they arrive, and the Wimseys have to convince the interfering old woman next door that they are indeed the rightful owners of the house. They also have to visit the former owner's niece to get keys, and she is shocked that her uncle would've sold the house and gone off without letting her know about it. Inside the house, there's still dishes on the tables and absolutely nothing to suggest that the former owner was ready to leave it, but Bunter manages to get his lord and lady settled as best he can.
It's only the day after, when the woman next door has taken up housekeeping duties to assist Bunter, and the chimney sweep, gardener and even local vicar has been round, that the whereabouts of the former owner is established. He has, in fact, been in the cellar, all along, with his head bashed in. Neither Harriet nor Lord Peter are strangers to murder investigations, but they're both painfully aware that most of the clues must have been disturbed or destroyed since their arrival at the house, and their servant's thorough cleaning of the building.
Worried about whether it'll upset Harriet, Peter offers to take her away and stay out of the official investigation. Knowing that solving mysteries is what her husband does best, the new Lady Wimsey insists that they stay and help the local police solve the murder.
Busman's Honeymoon is the romantic culmination of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane's courtship through several books, and a nice look at how they spend the first weeks of their marriage, interspersed with the depiction of a murder investigation in a tiny country village. Anyone wanting just a crime novel, or a romance, is likely to be disappointed. I really enjoyed it, and based on the diary entries from the Dowager Duchess (Peter's mother) and her appearance later in the book, I would like to check out earlier Sayers books featuring the Duchess, as she was especially delightful.
Another book read for R.I.P VII.