“We can’t pick and choose. Whoever suffers, we must have the truth. Nothing else matters.”
This story opened like a farce compared to the previous serious detective tale, Gaudy Night, however it ends being one of the richest of the series in terms of literary allusions, humor and psychological insights. Sayers returns to the lasting impact of shell shock (World War One’s PTSD) and the personal cost of exposing criminals.
“Come and hold my hand,” he said. “This point of the business always gets me down.”
Sayers loads this book with quotes from all over, as several characters speak in quips. For a change, they identify (to each other and the reader) their sources.
“Earnestly hope we shall not have another war with meat coupons and no sugar and people being killed–ridiculous and unnecessary.” (1937)
Sayers again assumes a high level of literary among her readers; that they are fluent in French and Latin. Also her rendering of rural dialect is occasionally impenetrable.
“There’s no one like the British aristocracy to tell you a good stiff lie without batting an eyelid.”
We are also reminded that English society is, or was, fundamentally different than American. We may talk about class divisions here, but they were never universally accepted.
“Harriet … felt depressed, as one frequently does when one gets what one fancied one wanted.”
For all the loose ends she fastens, one would think this volume closed the series. Indeed, she eventually moved to writing plays..
“You’re my corner, and I’ve come to hide.”