The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club


Sayers, Dorothy L - The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)

 

A few hours only after his sister passed away, General Fentiman is found dead in his favorite armchair at his favorite club. The case would be quite simple if Lady Dormer's strange will didn't make her brother her universal legatee only if he survived her. So it's up to Lord Peter to find when the general died... Another fine piece of detection by an expert, with usual great dialogue, characterization and humor. It's a shame Dorothy stopped writing so soon.

 

Xavier Lechard

 

Review by Nick Fuller

4/5

One of the early Sayers. Wimsey does a good job as detective, although his methods are very similar to those of Dr. Thorndyke, with his minute analysis of dust particles, the Marsh's test for arsenic, hatred of modern art (c.f. The Stoneware Monkey et al.), Bunter taking photographs like Polton. Other Freeman themes include wills and inheritance (survivorship plays a large part), fraud, poisoning, rigor mortis and exhumations — Wimsey even comments that "that fellow Freeman is full of plots about poisonings and wills and survivorship, isn't he?" and mention is made of the classic A Silent Witness. However, despite the brilliant evocation of the stodgy Bellona Club and the contrasting Bohemian London, and the good characterisation (Sayers manages to arouse interest in and sympathy with a character the reader does not meet until late in the book, and the poverty of George Fentiman and wife is obviously the ancestor of the Coles' Poison in the Garden Suburb), the book is ultimately a disappointment: there are too many Fortunate mutterings about food, and the murder plot lacks the ingenuity one expects from Sayers, so that the second half of the story is an anti-climax..