Friday, November 10, 2006

Have His Carcase, by Dorothy Sayers

Title:: Have His Carcase
Author: Dorothy Sayers

“I don’t want gratitude. I don’t want kindness. I don’t want sentimentality. I don’t even want love – I could make you give me that – of a sort. I want common honesty.”

“Do you? But that’s what I’ve always wanted – I don’t think it’s to be got.”

“Listen, Harriet. I do understand. I know you don’t want either to give or take. You’ve tried being the giver, and you’ve found that the giver is always fooled. And you won’t be the taker, because that’s very difficult, and because you know that the taker always ends by hating the giver. You don’t want ever again to have to depend for happiness on another person.”

“That’s true. That’s the truest thing you ever said.”

Harriet Vane, whose novels are selling faster than ever now that she’s been acquitted of murder, happens upon something strange during a walking tour along the English coast – the corpse of a bearded man who’s had his throat cut. The tide washes the body away, but not before Harriet takes several photographs of it. The press descends upon the story like bloodthirsty vultures, eager for another scandal involving the notorious Vane.

Along with them comes Lord Peter Wimsey, who can never resist a good corpse. Together, he and Harriet set about discovering who the young man was, who killed him, and what any of it has to do with Russian Bolsheviks?

Have His Carcase is the middle child of the Sayers canon – a little awkward and gangly. While Sayers is still working with the frame of a classic mystery she employed in her previous works, you can feel her being pulled in the direction of Gaudy Night, which is really something else entirely and rather indescribable. But it’s in this book that Harriet begins to emerge as a fully-formed character, and it’s wonderful to watch.

Oh, and read “Carcase” as “Carcass.” Those crazy British don’t know how to spell.

posted by Elizabeth at 7:37 PM


Post a Comment