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The Documents in the Case

Page history last edited by PBworks 18 years, 5 months ago

Sayers, Dorothy L - The Documents in the Case (1930)



Review by Nick Fuller


A book of letters by one whose own letters are full of interest in their own right, with the assistance of a scientist whose collaborations with L.T. Meade are acknowledged classics. The epistolary form allows D.L.S. to present the same characters from different perspectives, and so lend them a depth lacking from other works. Against a scathing portrait of would-be intellectual suburbia, she presents a very subtle presentation of marital infidelity; there is a touch of genius in making the idealistic murderer fall in love with a woman who is not at all worth it, a sickeningly stupid woman for whose emptiness he poisons with muscarine her cuckolded husband. Amateur detection by the victim’s son, wishing revenge on his wicked stepmother, and by a neighbour, a cynical artist involved against his will, is neatly and ingeniously combined with genuinely thought-provoking philosophical discussions through chemistry, so that the scientific clues are brilliantly illuminating. In short, absolutely extraordinary by any standards. Although a novel, and hence artificial, the book is irradiated by the light of genius which gives it a semblance of life.

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