Stephanie Burgis
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2010: A Book Odyssey
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I'm stuffed full of strawberry cream cake (with amazing mascarpone frosting) after a lovely afternoon spent in a friend's back yard, celebrating her baby's first birthday with a bunch of other friends and neighbors, all gathered and gossiping happily in the sunshine. Five-year-old boys clashed happily with rubber swords and laser guns, and several of the adult men in the crowd, including Patrick, gave in to temptation and made the little boys very happy by dueling with them with total enthusiasm. I ate my cake, laughed, talked, and loved watching the tournaments. Now I'm home re-reading Dorothy Sayers's Strong Poison while Patrick heats up lovely mattar paneer for dinner. Life is feeling really, really good right now. :)

It's always a strange experience to re-read a book for the first time in a long time. Some of the bits I love most this time are ones I passed over without much notice the last time through. This time, Miss Climpson's agency (a bit like Charlie's Angels, but 30+ years earlier and much, much cooler!) fills me with total joy. It's an agency run by the sort of elderly spinster who was totally disregarded and considered to be not only unimportant but nearly invisible in her 1930s society, and it's staffed entirely by other women from all ranges of life.
These women seemed to spend most of their time in answering advertisements. Unmarried gentlemen who desired to meet ladies possessed of competences with a view to matrimony; sprightly sexagenarians, who wanted housekeepers for remote country districts; ingenious gentlemen with financial schemes, on the look-out for capital; literary gentlemen, anxious for female collaborators; plausible gentlemen about to engage talent for production in the provinces; benevolent gentlemen, who could tell people how to make money in their spare time - gentlemen such as these were very liable to receive applications from members of Miss Climpson's staff. It may have been coincidence that these gentlemen so very often had the misfortune to appear shortly afterwards before the magistrate on charges of fraud, blackmail, or attempted procuration, but it is a fact that Miss Climpson's office boasted a private telephone line to Scotland Yard, and that few of her ladies were quite so unprotected as they appeared. It is also a fact that the money which paid for the rent and upkeep of the premises might, by zealous inquirers, have been traced to Lord Peter Wimsey's banking account.

Miss Climpson and her agents are SO awesome. And even the fact that the next line in the book is the totally ewwww-worthy:
His lordship was somewhat reticent about this venture of his, but occasionally, when closeted with Chief Inspector Parker or other intimate friends, referred to it as 'My Cattery'.

...only makes me think even more strongly how wonderful it would be to have (or to write!) a novel told entirely from the point of view of one of Miss Climpson's agents - a novel, and a mystery, in which Lord Peter is not involved at all. Not that I don't love the Lord Peter mysteries...but cool secret-detective-agent women in 1930, infiltrating bad guys' could you get any cooler than that?

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