Title: Strong Poison
Author: Dorothy Sayers
Published: 1995 (originally 1930), Harper
Lookie, I used my brain icon. It's the first time. Dorothy Sayers was actually the reason I came up with the brain. When I was creating my icons, I'd just finished reading Gaudy Night (also by Sayers). I really loved the book, but it was definitely more of a mental workout than is usual for me. I mean, the hero (Lord Peter Wimsey) asks the heroine (Harriet Vane) to marry him in Latin! And she answers in Latin. I had to look it up to see whether or not she said yes.
Dorothy Sayers wrote a whole series of detective novels featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. Strong Poison is the book in which Harriet Vane is introduced. Harriet is on trial for murdering her former lover, who she was *oh horror* living with outside the bonds of marriage. I guess in the '30s this was scandalous. And surely it must be a small step from this sort of immorality to murder.
Lord Peter is a rich gentleman whose hobby is solving crimes. He attends Harriet's trial and decides on the spot that he wants to marry her. So, first he must find out who really poisoned the victim with arsenic. Was it the nurse? The lawyer? The rich aunt? Or the smarmy cousin? Maybe it was suicide.
It's a really clever detective story. And I loved to see Lord Peter, who is usually cool as a cucumber, flustered around Harriet and then frantic when he thinks he may not figure out who did it before she is convicted. And he's just funny. "What a perfect Victorian you are, Charles. I should like to keep you in a glass case."
And don't let the brain put you off. If you like a good whodunit, these are great books. Busman's Honeymoon is my favorite so far.