Book Plunge: Strong Poison

What do I think of Dorothy Sayers’s book published by Open Road Media Mystery and Thriller? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s really hard to review this book because it’s a mystery and I can’t tell you much about it without spoilers. I will try to do the best I can. The story starts with a judge talking to a jury about the case with the defendant on trial. She is accused of murdering her past lover with arsenic and all of the evidence seems to point to her hands-down as the criminal.

Lord Peter Wimsey disagrees.

Lord Peter Wimsey is the detective in many of Sayers’s novels. I happen to enjoy reading a good mystery and the reason I did this one was because of my interest in Dorothy Sayers and that’s what I want to focus on. She was a member of the inklings and a friend of both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

To speak some about this work, one amazing aspect of it is while Christian characters do show up, sometimes the good guys engage in behavior that is not really Christian at all. I have no indication from this book if Peter Wimsey is a Christian or not, although I do know he can sing one hymn at least.

It is also sometimes difficult to understand some English mannerisms on this side of the pond. What does it mean for Peter to be a Lord, for example? Some of the terms seemed highly British and some of the ways that the people behaved, but one can still understand the plot.

The book goes so far in avoiding being explicitly Christian that in the end, I had to check to make sure I had the right lady. Maybe I got her confused with another Dorothy who was in the inklings. Nope. Got the right one.

We could say Lewis’s strength was that his material was much more outright Christian, yet Sayers’s strength is that hers wasn’t. Perhaps the difference was Lewis was writing for children with the Chronicles of Narnia. The Space Trilogy is a different matter, but that could also be by then that Lewis was so well-known as a Christian that it would be assumed.

Sayers then reminds me of what Lewis said about the best material needing to come from Christians even if it wasn’t Christian. What if the best book on medicine today was by a doctor who was Christian? What if the best book on physics was from a scientist who was Christian?

So my hope with this would be people would read Sayers and come to like her mysteries and then go and read her more theological works. I also wonder if she got some inspiration from Chesterton who did the Father Brown Mysteries. Of course, in that case, the character is explicitly Christian. I still have a funny story of when I had a roommate and he decided to borrow the Complete Collection one night that I had. He woke up late the next day and was upset with me because he didn’t get to bed until past 1 because he was so excited reading those mysteries.

So now, it looks like I have another detective to read. I have read Regan Reilly, Father Brown, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, some Sherlock Holmes, and now I can add Lord Peter Wimsey to the list. He certainly is a fun detective to read. If you like mysteries like I do, give this one a shot.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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