The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

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Ninety-year-old General Fentiman has been estranged for years from his sister, Lady Dormer. On the afternoon of 10 November, he is called to her deathbed and learns the terms of her will. If she dies first he will inherit a fortune, which his grandsons sorely need. But if he dies first, nearly all of the money will go to Ann Dorland, a distant relative of Lady Dormer’s late husband. Lady Dormer dies at 10:37 am on 11 November—Armistice Day. That afternoon the General is found dead in his armchair at the club. Due to the terms of Lady Dormer’s will and the time of her death, it becomes necessary to establish the exact time of the General’s death. Though the estate would provide amply for all three heirs, Ann Dorland refuses any compromise settlement. Wimsey is asked by his friend, Mr. Murbles, the solicitor for the Fentiman family, to help solve the puzzle. Wimsey agrees though he insists that he will pursue the exact truth, regardless of who benefits.

Books… are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with ’em, then we grow out of ’em and leave ’em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.

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On November 11, ninety-year-old General Fentiman is found dead in an armchair at the Bellona Club. No one knows exactly when his death occurred—information essential in determining the recipient of a substantial inheritance. But that is only one of the mysteries vexing Lord Peter Wimsey. The aristocratic sleuth needs every bit of his amazing skills to discover why the proud officer’s lapel was missing the requisite red poppy on Armistice Day, how the Bellona Club’s telephone was fixed without a repairman, and, most puzzling of all, why the great man’s knee swung freely when the rest of him was stiff with rigor mortis.


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