‘The Fascinating Problem Of Uncle Meleager’s Will’ by Dorothy Sayers

The Fascinating Problem Of Uncle Meleager’s Will by Dorothy Sayers, 1928

The magic trick:

Getting the reader caught up in the fun of solving a crossword puzzle

Lord Peter Wimsey today on SSMT, and this is a fun one. The titular Uncle Meleager has left his will hidden behind a series of puzzle clues. His intent is to encourage more frivolity from his niece, who I suppose he judged to be overly serious.

It follows then that the story is frivolous and fun. We have a crew of four – the niece, Lord Peter, Lord Peter’s sister Mary, and of course the valet Bunter – hunting around an old house working out a giant crossword puzzle. It’s hard for the reader not to get caught up in the spirit.

And that’s quite a trick on Sayers’s part.

The selection:

He snatched up a great bundle of newspapers, and led the way out. The others followed, each with an armful. The search had taken some time, and the atrium was in semi-darkness.

“Where shall I take them?” asked Lord Peter, calling back over his shoulder.

“Hi!” cried Mary; and, “Look where you’re going!” cried her friend.

They were too late. A splash and a flounder proclaimed that Lord Peter had walked, like Johnny Head-in-Air over the edge of the impluvium, papers and all.

“You ass!” said Mary.

His lordship scrambled out, spluttering, and Hannah Marryat suddenly burst out into the first laugh Peter had ever heard her give.

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