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Review: Azteclady does, Dorothy L. Sayers' Whose Body?

Whose Body?, by Dorothy L. Sayers

This wonderfully complicated (yet, at its heart, quite straightforward) mystery is the first of the incomparable Lord Peter Wimsey’s novels1 by Dorothy L. Sayers. Since this novel was first published back in the early 1920s2 there have been a number of editions released, with back cover blurbs ranging from awful to adequate. This one, from amazon.com, is much better than most:

The stark naked body was lying in the tub. Not unusual for a proper bath, but highly irregular for murder—especially with a pair of gold pince-nez deliberately perched before the sightless eyes. What’s more, the face appeared to have been shaved after death. The police assumed that the victim was a prominent financier, but Lord Peter Wimsey, who dabbled in mystery detection as a hobby, knew better. In this, his first murder case, Lord Peter untangles the ghastly mystery of the corpse in the bath.

Indeed, there is a body in the tub, and there is a prominent citizen missing. Wouldn’t it be wonderfully neat if these two were one and the same? Alas, in this case, adding one and one comes up to something in the neighborhood of minus three, and it’s up to Lord Peter to show the police the error of their ways. (more…)

Busman’s Honeymoon, by Dorothy L. SayersBusman's Honeymoon

The last of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels, Busman’s Honeymoon is as much a detective story as a romance. It is also the fourth and last story in the Harriet Vane story arc***. What with one thing and another, it also happens to be Lord Peter’s readers’ last opportunity for years to see these beloved characters.

Here is the brief blurb from the back cover of my copy:

Murder is hardly the best way for Lord Peter and his bride, the famous mystery writer Harriet Vane, to start their honeymoon. It all begins when the former owner of their newly acquired estate is found quite nastily dead in the cellar. And what Lord Peter had hoped would be a very private and romantic stay in the country soon turns into a most baffling case, what with the misspelled “notise” to the milkman and the intriguing condition of the dead man—not a spot of blood on his smashed skull and not a pence less than six hundred pounds in his pocket.

As a first class nitpicker, I’ll say that the mystery plot in this novel is one of the best out of the eleven Wimsey books—up there with Whose Body? and Unnatural Death. What sets this book apart is that, indeed, some of the most intense exchanges between the main characters occur after the how and the who have been revealed.

But let me start at the beginning… (more…)