I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Lord Peter Wimsey bent down over General Fentiman and drew the Morning Post gently away from the gnarled old hands. Then, with a quick jerk, he lifted the quiet figure. It came up all of a piece, stiff as a wooden doll . . .
But how did the general die? Who was the mysterious Mr X who fled when he was wanted for questioning? And which of the general's heirs, both members of the Bellona Club, is lying?
I’m still enjoying Lord Peter Wimsey and Dorothy L. Sayers. I am entertained by the mysteries that Sayers invented, but I think what I truly adore is getting to know Lord Peter and his history more fully with each installment. While I think that Sayers started out making Wimsey more like Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster (only in the first book mind you), but I am so glad that she turned right around and began to use him as her agent in both sleuthing and social commentary. Wodehouse’s Jeeves may completely run Bertie’s life, but Mervyn Bunter is a co-conspirator for Lord Peter.
Sayers starts in right away depicting the Bellona Club as a waiting room for death:
'What in the world, Wimsey, are you doing in this Morgue?' demanded Captain Fentiman, flinging aside the Evening Banner with the air of a man released from an irksome duty.
'Oh, I wouldn't call it that,' retorted Wimsey amiably. 'Funeral Parlour at the very least. Look at the marble. Look at the furnishings. Look at the palms and the chaste bronze nude in the corner.'
'Yes, and look at the corpses. Place always reminds me of that old thing in Punch, you know - 'Waiter! Take away Lord Whatsisname. He's been dead two days.' Look at old Ormsby there, snoring like a hippopotamus. Look at my revered grandpa - dodders in here at ten every morning, collects the Morning Post and the armchair by the fire, and becomes part of the furniture til the evening. Poor old devil. I suppose I'll be like that one of these days. . .'
An interesting issue in this work—what happens if one sibling leaves her earthly belongings to her brother if she predeceased him, but then they die at virtually the same time? Will anyone suspect murder if they are two elderly, unwell people? (This is why a string of nursing-home murders went undetected in Ontario—Elizabeth Wettlaufer had a nine year span of overdosing elderly patients with insulin before she was caught. All because health professionals just expect folks in nursing homes to die and are unwilling to look further).
All becoming much more relevant as the Baby Boom generation speeds toward nursing care and the funeral parlor.