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One of the special qualities of this book: it's the one in which Lord Peter first meets Harriet Vane, whom he will court assiduously for several more books before - but that would be telling, wouldn't it? The story opens as a judge is giving the summation to the jury in a murder trial - Harriet's trial, as it happens; Lord Peter chanced to be in the audience and fell for the lady at once, and is in agonies over the verdict. But the jury can't reach a verdict (thanks in part to the redoubtable Miss Climpson, who has an even more dramatic part to play later in the story) and so Peter has a chance to try and clear the lady's name before the next trial.
Despite the suspenseful circumstances, there's humor, too; the scenes in which Lord Peter's man Bunter coaxes a cook to describe the victim's last meal is very amusing (not least when Lord Peter instructs Bunter to insinuate himself into the bosom of the household and Bunter replies "I shall attempt to insinuate myself to your Lordship's satisfaction." I adore Bunter!).
It's a lively mystery and romance and life-in-Bohemian-London tale, strongly recommended!
[There was a very good made-for-TV adaptation of the novel, starring Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walter. And the TV Tropes page for the series includes some entertaining tidbits - but do beware of spoilers.]
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