No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

2018/40: Strong Poison -- Dorothy L. Sayers

The inherited inhibitions of twenty civilised centuries tied one hand and foot in bonds of ridicule. What if he did smash the mirror? Nothing would happen. Bunter would come in, unmoved and unsurprised, would sweep up the d├ębris in a dust-pan, would prescribe a hot bath and massage. And next day a new mirror would be ordered, because people would come in and ask questions, and civilly regret the accidental damage to the old one. And Harriet Vane would still be hanged, just the same. [p. 176]

In which Lord Peter Wimsey meets the woman he is determined to marry, who -- inconveniently -- happens to be on trial for the murder of her lover.

Reread as conclusion to a stint of jury service at the Old Bailey: I am happy to say that the rules for jury deliberations have relaxed somewhat since Lord Peter's day. We were allowed to leave our deliberations overnight, and were plied with food and drink ...

I'd remembered the jury foreman wearily stating that he thought it very unlikely they would ever all agree on a verdict in re Harriet Vane: I'd forgotten Miss Climpson's adventures with spiritualism, and the places where Lord Peter's aristocratic bufoonery begins to wear thin under the pressure of having found something, someone, that matters immensely to him. The grace and style remains, but he is peculiarly vulnerable and more human than in earlier novels in the sequence.

Can't help feeling that standards of evidence, and rules regarding its provision, are rather stricter these days. But where's the fun, the romance, the white-knightery, in that?

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