Dorothy L. Sayers

Lord Peter Views the Body

"Simply topping!"


Lord Peter Winsey is renowned as a raconteur and collector of rare books. He is also known throughout the crime world as a great detective. Here, Wimsey takes us through twelve of his cases involving a missing will with only a cryptic clue as to its whereabouts, a jealous artist who takes his art a bit too far, missing diamonds, murder of a man on a secluded beach and only his footprints in the sand, buried treasure, a ghostly apparition haunting the lanes of a small village and a crime syndicate. All are solved with Winsey's usual cunning and aplomb aiding here and there by his manservant, Bunter and his fiend from Scotland Yard, Inspector Parker.

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Sayers' stories are not 'whodunits', in the sense that you have to guess the culprit. More often than not, the culprit is recognised from the start. It is how Wimsey either thwarts the imminent crime or how he re-balances the scales of justice that is the point to these small gems. Wimsey has always been classed as a trickster, a fop. As with Allingham's adventurer, Albert Campion, criminals disregard them at their peril. Despite Wimsey's 'foppishness', when he has a criminal in his sights, he is like a Rottweiler. His methods may be bizarre and extreme, but somehow, they feel right for the tone of the stories encased in this collection. Some greatly reminded me of the short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. Here there is a voluminous cast of strange characters, definitely in the first involving the artist! The last tale involves a crime syndicate with people in cloth hoods with numbers on them, which is reminiscent of Christie's, 'The Seven Dials Mystery'. I do wonder if such organisations were about those days, as during the twenties, there seems to have been a craving for secret societies back then! Sayers had a great eye for personalities and here they shine in these twelve macabre tales. As has always been documented, Sayers' writing had a habit of becoming a bit florid, but that is easy to deal with and doesn't upset the flow of these stories. I am surprised that these short stories haven't been televised like the Poirot's were. They are smart little conundrums and with some minor tweaking would certainly pass an hour of entertainment. This shows a world long gone, savaged by two World Wars. Sayers' longevity continues without any sign of waning which is why The Folio Society has brought out this luscious volume. The 48 illustrations by Paul Cox perfectly reflect the rhythm of the stories with a marvellous one involving 'The Learned Adventure of the Dragon's Head' which involves Wimsey getting a brief insight to parenting by looking after his nephew, Gerald aka Pickled Gherkins (Gherkins for short). This is a splendid addition to Folio's growing classic crime list and would make a perfect gift for anyone who loves and appreciates Sayers' writing and the Golden Age of Crime Fiction. Simply topping! Click on the title to go through to the Folio Society website to view this title. Lord Peter Views the Body.

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