REVIEW: Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers

REVIEW: Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. SayersBusman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey #13) by Dorothy L. Sayers
Published: Open Road Media (1937), eBook, 419pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fiction, Mystery

Married at last, Lord Peter and Harriet find their honeymoon interrupted by a killer...

It took several near-death experiences for Lord Peter Wimsey to convince Harriet Vane to be his wife, but she has finally relented. When the dapper detective marries Britain’s most popular mystery author—just a few short years after rescuing her from the hangman’s noose—the press could not be more excited. But Lord Peter and his bride have no interest in spending their wedding night surrounded by reporters. They sneak out of their own reception to begin their honeymoon early, out of sight of the world. Unfortunately, for some couples, calamity is inescapable.

On their first morning together, the newlyweds discover the house’s caretaker bludgeoned to death in the manor’s basement. If they thought finding a few minutes alone was difficult, they’re up against even steeper odds. In a house full of suspects, identifying the killer won’t be easy. (from Goodreads)

After the relative gloom of Gaudy Night, I was super happy that Busman’s Honeymoon returned to the more usual kind of Lord Peter mystery as seen earlier in the series. Peter and Harriet are on their honeymoon, and they’re gooey with love for each other. It’s adorable.

But it’s not all mush! The mystery is pretty good, full of red herrings and a relatively simple solution for all the time and effort spent trying to solve it. DLS usually hooks me well and good with her red herrings– I spent a lot of time thinking there was a dead body in the chimney, unable to focus on anything else until I found out if it was in there or not. (Spoiler: it wasn’t.) I admit it, after spending SO much time wading through the herrings and the mush, the solution wasn’t actually all that satisfying. It was almost too simple? Not that I want there to be explosions and gunfights at the end of every mystery, but something a bit more than what was there would have been nice.

Anyway, there’s more great stuff about settling into married life and how that changes your relationships (both romantically and domestically). I loved the stuff with Harriet and Bunter and how she didn’t want to step on his toes (and with him kind of watching to see what sort of housewife she was). We also see the secret underside to Peter’s detective life (also great). Most of the time in interwar mysteries we don’t see the downside to dealing with murders and suicides and whatnot. We only see the triumphant unmasking of the villain; we never see what happens afterward to either the villain OR the hero. It felt a bit like joining a secret club, seeing what happens to Peter after he solves the mystery.

Busman’s Honeymoon is a wonderful continuation to the Harriet-Lord Peter romance and the Lord Peter series as a whole. I definitely recommend it!

Read: February 9-13, 2014

Question: why is Harriet called Lady Peter and not Lady Harriet? I suppose it’s something to do with nobility naming conventions AND how women became Mrs. Peter Whimsey (for instance) back in the old days. But it’s still weird, to my modern viewpoint.

There are plenty of witty, funny sentences sprinkled in among the regular narrative; again, it reminds me of the earlier Lord Peter books. For example:

P.C. Norman had been knocked off his bicycle by a Great Dane under insufficient control and had sprained his thumb (51%)

Which deserves to be a children’s book, if not a whole series.

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers”

  1. I think “Lady Harriet” would imply that Harriet was nobility in her own right. Like, I bet Peter’s sister gets called “Lady Mary,” because she’s a duke’s daughter; whereas Harriet’s only married to the younger son of a duke. It is weird, but all of those nobility naming conventions are weird.

    1. I thought it might be something like that! But it’s still weird. I’d much rather be called by my own name than my husband’s, even if we were noble or whatever.

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