The Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery Series, by Dorothy Leigh Sayers Fleming

Book cover

My favourite mystery series of all time is the Lord Peter Wimsey stories by Dorothy Sayers. I also enjoy her short stories about the crafty salesman, Montague Egg.

Despite the irritating class structure, a slightly misogynist air (chapter titles range from “A use for spinsters,” to “Lord Peter Turns a Trick) and a know-it-all main character, the Lord Wimsey stories are so appealing, the BBC made them into television shows. Sayers sarcastic humour stands out and she always manages to turn the story in a direction that isn’t immediately obvious.

The best things about reading Sayers’ mysteries, however, are her characters. They all seem like real personalities despite exaggerated traits and overblown situations.

The key character is Wimsey himself, of course, who is an honourable but eccentric example of England’s upper class who feels ugly but is extraordinarily-good at everything. Stories about this ideal man include feats showing his success at playing the piano, scoring in cricket and leading his men in World War II trenches. No matter what the situation, he knows exactly what to do, but is also charming and kind. He’s also rich and never gets angry.

Every story also includes at least one scene with the doting Bunter, Lord Wimsey’s fussing efficient assistant who manages to fill a variety of expert roles, including photography, chemistry and under-cover spying.

Only a few include the Sayers-like character Harriet Vane, who is described as a best-selling independent mystery writer and the love of Wimsey’s life.

His able old-fashioned lawyer, Mr. Murbles, handles  legal trials along the way. Particularly nice characters show up over and over, including Mary, the sister he hardly knows and an affable police detective named Parker. Unbelievable characters appear in very believable circumstances, including a ghost uncle, his fun-loving mother, his fuss-budget older brother and his brother’s wife, the super-critical Helen.

The best character of all is an extraordinary woman detective named Miss Climpson, who runs an all-lady detective agency for Wimsey.

She is my ears and tongue and especially my nose,” said Lord Peter, dramatically in Unnatural Death “She asks questions which a young man could not put without a blush…I send a lady with a long, woolly jumper on knitting needles and jingly things round her neck. Of course she asks questions—everybody expets it. Nobody is surprised. Nobody is alarmed. And so-called superfluity is agreeable and usually disposed of.”

These great characters, particularly the female ones, arise from a life of varied experiences. Born to the chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford and his wife in 1893, Sayers crossed many boundaries for women during her lifetime. She didn’t get a degree immediately after finishing studying at Somerville College in Oxford, because women couldn’t have them at that time, although she did get one five years later, in 1920.

Sayers had a son, John Anthony, “out-of-wedlock” in 1924, although she never told anyone he was her son and asked her cousin to raise him. She adopted him after marrying a journalist named Oswald Arthur Mac Fleming.

She began her Wimsey series a year later while working full-time as an advertising copywriter. She began writing full time in 1932 and died 35 years later.

Her son and his heirs kept her stories in print, which is why so many of them were published by “The Trustees of Anthony Fleming, Deceased”

Her Wimsey stories include:

  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, 1921
  • The Vindictive Story of the Footsteps that Ran, 1921
  • Whose Body, 1923
  • The Abominable History of the Man with the Copper Fingers, 1924
  • The Entertaining Episode of the Article in Question, 1925
  • The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager’s Will, 1925
  • The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag, 1925
  • The Learned Adventure of the Dragon’s Head, 1925
  • The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker, 1926
  • Clouds of Witness, 1926, in which Wimsey’s brother, the Duke of Denver is accused of murder.
  • Unnatural Death, 1927
  • The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste, 1927
  • The Piscatorial Farce of the Stolen Stomach, 1927
  • The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face, 1928
  • Lord Peter Views the Body, 1928 (12 short stories, most in London)
  • The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention, 1928
  • The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba, 1928-1930.
  • Strong Poison (1st Harriet Vane, 1930)
  • Five Red Herrings, March 1931 (Artists in Galloway Scotland) “The plot was invented to fit a locality”
  • Have His Carcase (2nd Harriet Vane, 1932, “the locality was invented to fit a plot”–walking holiday along the beaches near Wilvercome, on the south-west coast of England)
  • Murder Must Advertise, 1933
  • In The Teeth of the Evidence, 1933
  • Hangman’s Holiday, 1933
  • The Nine Tailors, 1934
  • Striding Folly, 1934
  • Gaudy Night, 1935
  • Thrones, Dominations 1936
  • The Haunted Policeman, 1936
  • Busman’s Honeymoon, 1937
  • Talboys, 1942

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Merlin Immobilier Lowers Height of Buildings in Proposed Wanklyn Project

Architectural view of Wanklyn

Original Architectural drawings

Revised Wanklyn drawings

Revised Architectural Drawings

LaSalle—Merlin Immobilier decided to lower the height of some of the buildings in its proposed Wanklyn project yesterday to ensure that LaSalle residents don’t block the rezoning of the 47,139-square-metre Fonds immobilier de solidarité property between Cherry Lane, Jean-Milot, Wanklyn and Highway 138.

Proposed 12-storey buildings will be adjusted to nine storeys, while the proposed nine-storey buildings will be lowered to six storeys.

“During the consultations we’ve held, we’ve heard residents complain about the number of storeys in the highest of our proposed buildings,” said Jean-Pierre Bégin, president of Merlin Immobilier. “We believe that we should respect the concerns of these residents so that our project will be attractive not only to future residents but also to the community in which it belongs.”

The bylaw revision proposes the elimination of zone H08-06 and the creation of four new zones, P08-06, H08-47, H08-48 and H08-49.

The new height revision would apply to one building in the first phase of the project* and several buildings in the fourth and fifth phases, which are within the proposed H08-48 zone south of Jean-Milot to the east of the highway. This part of the project is scheduled to begin in 2014 or 2015. The original and revised drawings appear above this article for comparison.*

The first three phases will be maintained in their proposed form.

Phase 1 includes 405 units within two Access Condo complexes and one low-income housing for families residence just north of Wanklyn next to Highway 138. These buildings are proposed to be five- and six-storeys high. The height revision applies to one building in this phase.*

Phase two includes 70 low-density family condos in a two-complex four and five-storey rectangle with an inner courtyard. The height revision doesn’t apply to this phase.

Phase three includes 275 units within three four-storey condo buildings along Ruelle Cherry, next the current properties on rue des Oblats. The new height revision doesn’t apply to this phase either.

Despite this revision, the number of low-income residences proposed during the consultations will be maintained, as will the size of the proposed neighbourhood park.

*These sentences were changed to reflect a correction from the builder; one building in the initial phase will be lower than originally proposed. Thanks to Merlin for providing a revised drawing as well.


À l’écoute des citoyens du quartier
Merlin Immobilier adapte le projet Wanklyn

Montréal, le mardi 1er mai 2011 – Dans la foulée des journées portes ouvertes et des deux assemblées de consultation tenues au cours des dernières semaines, Merlin Immobilier et ses partenaires annoncent une réduction substantielle des hauteurs des bâtiments prévus dans le développement résidentiel du quadrilatère situé à l’est de la voie ferrée, entre les rues Jean-Milot et des Oblats et la route 138.

Ainsi, trois étages seront retranchés aux bâtiments les plus hauts qui passeront respectivement de douze à neuf étages, et de neuf à six étages. Tout comme dans le projet original, les bâtiments les plus élevés demeureront situés aux abords de la route 138, là où impact sur l’ensoleillement ou la vue des voisins

« Les citoyens nous ont dit qu’ils appréciaient grandement la démolition des usines abandonnées, la création d’un parc de quartier, le verdissement généralisé, la mixité d’habitations pour les familles et les aînés, ainsi que la revitalisation du quartier. Mais nous avons constaté que certains se questionnaient sur le nombre d’étages des plus hauts bâtiments. Nous croyons qu’en posant ce geste de respect envers les préoccupations de nos voisins, notre projet saura séduire la communauté et les futurs propriétaires. De plus, malgré cette diminution du nombre d’étages, nous nous engageons formellement à maintenir le nombre d’unités de logements abordables et communautaires prévues au projet», a déclaré Jean-Pierre Bégin, président de Merlin Immobilier.

Merlin Immobilier a fait part de son intention à l’Arrondissement LaSalle et lui a formellement demandé de modifier son règlement pour garantir aux citoyens que les nouvelles hauteurs de bâtiment ne puissent être dépassées. « Il est important que ce geste d’ouverture envers les préoccupations des citoyens se reflète dans la règlementation; nous souhaitons qu’il ne subsiste aucun doute quant à notre volonté d’agir en voisin exemplaire », a conclu M. Bégin.

Rappelons que Merlin Immobilier développe ce projet en partenariat avec le Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ qui est propriétaire du terrain. Des discussions sont en cours avec la SHDM pour que les unités d’habitation qui seront construites soient admissibles au programme Accès Condos.

À propos de Merlin Immobilier

Merlin est un promoteur et un gestionnaire de projets immobiliers. Depuis sa fondation en 1999, Merlin met sur pied et prend en charge des projets de grande envergure à son compte ou pour ses partenaires ou ses clients.


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Ten Phrases That Indicate Obduracy

Webster’s Dictionary Definition of Obduracy

The quality or state of being:

  • hardened in feelings
  • stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing or
  • resistant to persuasion or softening influences, as in unyielding.”


1)     It’s not my responsibility, it’s theirs.

2)     Trust me to do the right thing, that’s what you pay, elect, or assign me to do.

3)     We’re going to take it one step at a time.

4)     Those details aren’t important.

5)     Why are you focussing on that?

6)     I share your concerns, but this isn’t the time to raise them.

7)     We’ll consult you when we have something concrete to present.

8)     We need more information.

9)     This isn’t a public issue.

10)   That decision can’t be made until everything connected to it has been considered.

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Blogging Combines Publisher and Writer Roles into One

Word Processing System

A writer friend mentioned on a listserve today that she plans to blog every day this month as part of the 2012 Blogathon, a contest set up by reporter and editor Michelle V. Rafter. “Is anyone here participating in the 2012 Blogathon?”

So, in a moment of inspiration, I decided to join her.

The idea is to make blogging a normal routine. The daily grind will ensure discipline while educating me about what kind of schedule will work going forward.

Daily writing won’t be the most difficult part of the challenge; it’s the daily publishing part that seems unimaginable. There’s no copy editor, fact-checker or editor here at my desk, so I have to take on those roles in addition to writing.

The idea that I can write something, type-set it as I write thanks to WordPress software, and then distribute my copy around the world by clicking on a small “publish” button? That’s what’s freaking me out. To me, the writing process is in one part of my brain. I have to turn on another part of my brain to figure out how to present the written word afterwards.

Younger people don’t realize what a big change has taken place in the media in the last three decades. Today, everyone has to learn skills that used to be divided among many. Taking the time to craft a text carefully and then passing it on to experts for presentation is a luxury we no longer have.

In that way, I miss the old days.

Except for the technology. I remember learning how to type on an old Underwood typewriter with sticky keys.

When I began my first job out of university, computers existed, but they took up entire rooms.

My first job out of university was at Canadian Federation of Students-Services. We had an old Wang word processing system that filled a third of a room and had to be slammed a lot to print.

It wasn’t until my third job that personal computers entered the picture. There was one computer in the office and I was the only one who ever used it–and then only for mass mailings.

The idea that you could write something, type-set it using cool software and then distribute it around the world by clicking on a small “publish” button is something I wouldn’t even have imagined in those days. Don’t even mention the cloud.

If I were more up to date, I’d text this article on my Blackberry, which I only have because my husband bought an Iphone and was planning to get rid of his old phone, which I took.

I still miss my old brick of a cellphone. I’m very sad to see that the world seems to be moving away from RIM’s product. The security and durability of the Blackberry appeals to me way more than joining the world of Apple.

Haven’t got a pad yet, although I like the feel of those. They remind me of my old etch-a-sketch.

So here I am, a Luddite in a world of technology. Trying to figure out how to SEO, trackback and all the other new communication skills that everyone needs to participate in these new virtual communities. Participating in the Blogathon should help with that.

Ironically, I’ve also offered to reformat my Vital Verdun website so that the events and articles can be printed out on the front and back of a single piece of paper for a neighbour who doesn’t like reading on a screen. If I can do it efficiently so that it looks good, perhaps I’ll produce an old-time community newspaper as a mini-portion of my business.


For more information on the 2012 Blogathon, consult Michelle’s website at

To encourage Marijke, my blogging contest buddy, refer to


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