Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers
One of my coworkers recommended Dorothy Sayers’ detective novels. After doing some research, I picked Strong Poison as my first foray into this genre since I failed to get through Sherlock Holmes probably a decade ago. That had been my second time trying to read Sherlock Holmes. Taken together with the fact that I fall asleep during Sherlock episodes, I decided that Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories don’t work for me.
1) “A person who can believe all articles of the Christian faith is not going to boggle over a trifle of adverse evidence.”
This book is full of subtle social commentary about religion and gender.
2) “‘Charles, acushla, distrust the straightforward case, the man who looks you straight in the eyes, and the tip straight from the horse’s mouth. Only the most guileful deceiver can afford to be so aggressively straight. Even the path of the light is curved – or so they tell us.'” – Wimsey
When everything looks right, it’s because you haven’t identified what’s wrong.
3) “‘Bunter, I have a sensation of being hovered over. I do not like it. It is unusual and it unnerves me. I implore you not to hover.'” – Wimsey
The lord way of saying GTFO.
4) “‘Till you can cast away the octave and its sentimental association, you walk in fetters of convention.'” – the fat man
A nice twist to “thinking outside the box.”
5) “‘Can he drink coffee, Marjorie? Or does he require masculine refreshment?'” – Eiluned Price
Woah. If coffee is not masculine enough, then what is tea?
6) “‘I merely proceed on the old Sherlock Holmes basis, that when you have eliminated the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be true.'” – Miss Marriott
Sherlock Holmes is mentioned multiple times throughout. It definitely felt like Sayers went out of her way to incorporate these Sherlock references, which speaks to how iconic a character he was.
7) “It’s very ungentlemanly to commit suicide without leaving a note to say you’ve done it – gets people into trouble.” – Wimsey
You know what they say – suicide is the most selfish thing you can do.
8) “‘We owe a great debt of gratitude to the press…so kind of them to pick out all the plums for us and save the trouble of reading the books, don’t you think, and such a joy for the poor dear people who can’t afford seven-and-sixpence, or even a library subscription, I suppose, though I’m sure that works out cheaply enough if one is a quick reader.” – Dowager Duchess
It’s somewhat of a wonder that – with all the tweets, listicles, and even longreads out there – books still hold their own. There is something wholesome about comprehensiveness.
9) “‘Those machines make you careless….In the old days, clerks thought twice about making foolish mistakes, when it meant copying the whole document out again by hand.'” – Mr. Pond
He is talking about typewriters.
10) “‘Still worse, suppose you are in an amphibious condition, wearing one shoe of your own and one of the establishment’s?'” – Miss Climpson
I now have a word to describe this awkward situation at the shoe store.
Strong Poison surprised me. It had almost zero suspense. The detective aspect was weak, but the dialogue was very sharp. Lastly, it’s ironically appropriate that I read this book just as the word “toxic” entered my daily vocabulary.