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Have His Carcase [Mass Market Paperback]

Dorothy L. Sayers
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but read Strong Poison first July 28 2001
By Gray
Format:Mass Market Paperback
All of Dorothy Sayers' mysteries are worth reading. She has a command of English and a story-telling ability that makes her, in my opinion, one of the two greatest mystery writers of the twentieth century. Most of Ms. Sayers' mysteries feature Lord Peter, second son of the Duke of Denver. He is one of the most delightful characters in English literature and well worth meeting in any of Ms. Sayers books. Most of the Lord Peter mysteries stand alone and can be read without worrying about sequence. However four of the mysteries involve Harriet Vane, and for maximum enjoyment, those four mysteries should be read in order. Strong Poison describes the first meeting between Harriet and Lord Peter. Have His Carcase explores the relationship between the two of them as they investigate the death of a man whose body Harriet discovers while hiking along a deserted beach. The interaction between the two of them can best be understood and appreciated if Strong Poison is read first. Have His Carcase may be the least enjoyable of the four romance-mysteries involving Harriet, but this book leads to the final two books in the series, and those two books are the finest romance-mysteries ever written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic in Cryptology Oct. 29 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I recommend this book primarily because it contains Lord Wimsey and Harriet's solution of a Playfair cipher.
Most readers will recall Sherlock Holmes' solution of the Dancing Men cipher (recounted in Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Dancing Men) and Legrand's solution of Captain Kidd's cipher (recounted in Poe's The Gold Bug). Both of these are simple substitution ciphers, easily broken if one knows certain facts about the English language, such as the order of letter frequency (E, T, O, A, N . . .) The Playfair cipher, on the other hand, is an order of magnitude more difficult to solve. It is a digram cipher, using pairs of letters (there are 26x26=676 possible digrams) instead of individual letters to encrypt the message. Tables of digram frequencies are of little use in decrypting short messages. Other methods are required. The mechanics are explained in the text.
The Playfair cipher was used operationally in WWII and to this day remains unsolvable as a one-time, short message, unknown-keyword cipher, unless you can guess one of the plaintext words. Wimsey and Harriet were lucky that they were dealing with an amateur.
Sayer's audacious trump of Conan Doyle and Poe caught my attention. The rest of the book is, to put it mildly, well-plotted. There is evidence here that native British intelligence far exceeds what one finds in the colonies. No wonder Sayers is so popular.
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By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
The reviews I value most on amazon are those for audio books, because not only does the quality of the writing need to be ascertained, but also the quality of the reader -- a much more nebulus and subjective thing to assess. I have several of my favorite Sayers novels on audio, and the Petherbridge ones are my preference, despite their being abridged. David Case also does an excellent job on his narration of Whose Body. But I must add my support to the previous post which noted that Ian Carmichael can be difficult to follow. Carmichael does a decent Whimsey, but cannot bend his voice enough to create distinct characters beyond Whimsey. All too often I find myself backing up to replay episodes of conversation because I can't keep track of WHO is talking -- and this is despite having read the book! I cannot recommend the Carmichael readings to those unfamilar with the original works. Start with Petherbridge instead.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Overplotted Nov. 27 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The story is extremely convoluted and the solution of the mystery rests upon complex ideas that Sayers fails to present in an attention-holding way; indeed, this is perhaps Sayers' weakest effort in the Wimsey series. Certainly worth the effort for Sayers fans, but other readers would be wise to select Clouds of Witness, Gaudy Night, Murder Must Advertise, or Busman's Honeymoon.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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