The wealthy Agatha Dawson is dead and there are no apparent signs of foul play. Lord Peter Wimsey, however, senses that something is amiss and he refuses to let the case rest - even without any clues or leads. Suddenly, he is faced with another murder - Agatha's maid. Can super-sleuth Wimsey find the murderer and solve the case before he becomes the killer's next victim?
©1927, 1955 The Trustees of Anthony Fleming (deceased) (P)2012 AudioGO
A Dorothy Sayers (unabridged) novel narrated by Ian Carmichael is a marriage made in heaven. Carmichael has narrated most of the Sayers Lord Peter novels and he is without rival for excellence in this genre. In this recording of Unnatural Death Sayers' complex and riveting story of clever deception and calculated murder is brought to its full dramatic heights by narrator Ian Carmichael.
Audible, PLEASE bring us more Sayers read by Carmichael!
I love the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy L. Sayers. I own all of the unabridged audiobooks read by Ian Carmichael on audiocassette, and have been waiting eagerly for them to be available in digital format, as my cassettes are getting old and worn out from much playing. Ian Carmichael, who played Lord Peter in some of the BBC TV versions does a fantastic job narrating the story. I love the entire series. Unnatural Death is the third in the series, and I can only hope that Audible will soon have the rest of the series available for sale to US listeners, as they have been in some other countries for some time.
If you don't already know Lord Peter, this is a fair place to start. There are other books in the series I like more, but if you enjoy this one you will be delighted as more become available.
I will be listening to this many times over the next decade or more.
What more could you want from an audiobook?
First, there's the multifaceted Dorothy Sayers: medieval scholar, poet, playwright, advertising copywriter (where she helped create the famous and still-used "Zoo" ads for Guinness), friend of people like C. S. Lewis and T. S. Eliot. She could pen Christian apologetics and scholarly essays, translate Dante, reproducing the original terza rima in fluent English, then turn around and create a character as flawed, funny, admirable and ultimately likable as Lord Peter Wimsey.
Then there is the story, full of people who act like people, with our hidden motives, self-deceptions, vanity, greed and occasional introspections. Because Sayers was a sincere and serious Christian her crime stories are set in the context of a definite moral universe. Because she was a great writer, the physical universe of the stories is just as complex and untidy as the one in which we find ourselves. An amazingly accomplished woman in her own right, she was by no means a standard-bearer for Feminism but rather an acute observer and critic of what that movement was bringing about in her own day. Thus reading or listening to her works can be a deeply illuminating counter-cultural experience.
Finally, there is Ian Carmichael. I first scraped acquaintance with Dorothy Sayers through the BBC productions of her mystery novels that starred Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey. As good as those productions were, hearing him read the story is, of course, even better. He doesn't just read, he acts, giving each character a voice so definite that it isn't hard to conjure up a mental image of the speaker. When reading the narration between the slabs of dialogue he seems to understand exactly what Sayers was driving at, injecting just the right touch of irony, sarcasm or humor.
If Carmichael performed any more of the Lord Peter mysteries, let's hope Audible can snag them and put them up for sale.
Voracious reader/listener: I usually have one ebook and one audiobook going at a the same time. I'm a very eclectic reader so I tend to switch genres after every book. I'm open to most genres but my favorites in audio are mystery and fantasy (epic and urban both).
This book was a thoroughly enjoyable entry in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. The mystery was adequate, mostly about proving that a murder had been committed instead of finding out the killer.
But really, I don't read this series for the mysteries but because Lord Peter is so funny. I almost burst a lung laughing throughout the whole book. He's so witty and has such a way of expressing himself. Some quotes:
"I sleuth, you know. For a hobby. Harmless outlet for natural inquisitiveness, don't you see, which might otherwise strike inward and produce introspection and suicide."
"I did hope I was gong to vindicate him and have him played home by the village band under a triumphal arch with "Welcome, Champion of Truth!" picked out in red-white-and-blue electric bulbs."
Ian Carmichael is masterful in the narration. I don't think all these things would strike me as funny reading them on my own. He just has this sense of the ridiculous that brings wonderful qualities to the narration.
Hopefully Audible gets the rest of the series soon so I can continue listening!
I do not tend to listen to books twice.
All the repartee between Wimsey and Parker.
When Wimsey pays a visit to the villainess posing as her alter ego
No, it is sufficiently complex that one wants to,pause to digest.
I devoured the Lord Peter Wimsey books back in the 1970's. Though worn & tattered from decades of reading & rereading, they are a prized part of my library. But I would dump them in a minute if I could replace them with audio versions read by Ian Carmichael. I took great delight in the television adaptations he was able to create & sighed along with his wistful article in MURDER INK about the struggle just to get 5 of the books produced by the BBC. Please tell me there are more unabridged Lord Peter books narrated by this wonderful actor.
I was born near Chicago, and moved to Texas 22 years ago. I taught high-school English for probably too many years. Love a good mystery.
He is more engaging and he understands the characters perfectly.
Sayers characters are more lively and her writing style is more sophisticated than most mystery writers. Her plots are dated but more original , and I love learning about the British.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
When I think of Lord Peter Wimsey, I most often think of the modern TV show Castle. I am a big fan of Castle. And there are many similarities. Lord Peter Wimsey is rich, interested in crime, has a good intrinsic sense of how crimes can be committed, is interested in crime as intellectual activity and works with a police officer who he allows to do all the mundane work and there is a good bit of humor in both.
Of course there are differences, Wimsey is not a writer, just a rich Lord (brother to a Duke). He has the free time to think about and solve crimes (Wimsey collects and sells rare first edition book, but has no need for money). And this is the 1930s Britian, so the sexy female cop is out of the question.
But I can totally see Castle with this plot. Wimsey is eating dinner at a fancy resturant and overhears a doctor talking about the death of a patient. He interupts and asks the doctor to tell him the whole story which leads Wimsey to believe that the patient was killed.
Most of the book is spent trying to figure out what motive anyone would have to kill an elderly woman that already had cancer and only a few months to live. The last third of the book is spent trying to figure out how the killer did it, once Wimsey knows who did it.
His interest in the case is based on a desire to understand the perfect crime. Wimsey has a little soliloqy with Parker (his Scotland Yard detective friend) about the fact that crime study is based on the criminals that failed, not on those that succeeded. Wimsey assumes that for every crime that failed there has to be at least an equal number of successes.
In the end, it is presented as a success for Wimsey’s idea. But I am not sure it really is. First of all the crime is solved and the murderer is caught. Second, the original crime is really only discovered because the murderer tries to cover up the crime and ends up killing more people. So I think that while Wimsey is right, that some criminals get away with well planned murders, many get caught because of later murders that are not as well planned either because they get sloppy or because they are trying to cover up previous crimes.
I have read these books out of order, but so far I think the first and sixth books are the best, the second and third are good and the fourth (a short story collection) is the weakest.
Dorothy L. Sayers remains one of the top mystery writers, and this story holds up well. I have reread this book with great pleasure over the years.
Ian Carmichael is the penultimate Lord Peter. He played the character well on TV, and gives Lord Peter a wonderful voice on the audio book. However, it doesn't end there. The voices he provides to the other characters seem appropriate and fit seamlessly with the narrative.
A classic detective mystery lover. Especially mysteries taking place in quaint English villages!
In the style of vintage classic mysteries, this story has the English village setting I love and a rich cast of quirky characters to tell the story.
My favorite character has to be the spunky spinster who is commissioned to ferret out the truth among the lies. Lord Peter sees the value of her skills and places great faith in her natural abilities. I love it that she works to play the part with such enthusiasm that she purchases woolen under garments to complete the look. Lol. I'm not sure who she expects will see these articles of woolen under clothing but perhaps she is wanting to play it safe just in case there is a stiff breeze or something.
The story has the element of an unexpected family member entering the picture but this one enters with a back story that would have been scandalous at the time. It has a few twists and turns that make it a fun read.
Ian Carmichael's reading of the story is just right allowing the listener to form vivid mental images of of the characters and and the mystery being presented.
I found his voice to be interesting but also soothing to listen to. It's just what I'm looking for while trying to escape for a while.
I'm a big fan of classic detective stories. If you hold up Agatha Christie's works as the standard for the genre then Dorothy Sayers is not quite at the top but certainly approaching the upper end of good clean fun mystery reading.
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