Dorothy L. Sayers gives Lord Peter Wimsey a less prominent role in this novel than she does in her other detective fiction. Hilary Thorpe finds the cryptogram that leads to the discovery of the jewels, Venables helps decode it, and members of the regular British and French police forces provide vital information.
Still, Lord Peter is the first to recognize the significance of the cryptogram’s message and the first to realize that Deacon did not die in 1918. His typically brilliant intuition is matched by his arcane knowledge, in this novel of campanology and the history of the draining of the fens in East Anglia. He also remains indifferent to religion and more interested in the life of the common people than in his aristocratic relatives at Denver.
Bunter, his valet, is also his usually resourceful self. He pilfers a crucial letter from the post office, and he obliges his master in less dramatic ways as well. He supplies a wreath in Lord Peter’s name for Lady Thorpe’s funeral and has the prayer books ready for Sunday service.
In addition to meeting these two regulars of Sayers’ mysteries, the reader encounters a number of fascinating villagers. There are only about three hundred people living in Fenchurch St. Paul, and the reader feels he has met most of them by the end of the book. Each of the bell-ringers has his own personality, from the seventy-five-year-old Hezekiah Lavendar down to the young, nervous Walter Pratt....
(The entire section is 432 words.)