Monday, May 23, 2011

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter S

Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise sponsors The Aphabet in Crime Fiction community meme. your post MUST be related to the first letter of the book's title, the first letter of the author's first name or the first letter of the author's surname. You can write a book review or a bio of an author so long as it fits the rules somehow.

This week we are featuring the Letter S. There is no way on earth that I can possibly let S go by and not use it for Sayers. Dorothy L. Sayers.

If Agatha Christie was my gateway to Vintage/Golden Age mysteries, then Dorothy L. Sayers was the reason I stayed with them. Not only was she a reknowned mystery writer, but she was a poet, playwright, essayist, translator, and a great writer of Christian apologetics.
Sayers is my absolute favorite of the queens of the Golden Age mysteries. Her books are so literate and full of interesting information and quotes. It may seem like she's throwing around all kinds of obscure bits and pieces, but readers should remember that during her time a liberal arts degree acquainted one with all the classics as well as languages (particularly Latin and French) in a way that college graduates rarely seem to accomplish these days. Her use of quotations could keep you busy for years trying to place the texts quoted (or you can cheat and use the wonderful Lord Peter Wimsey Companion by Stephen Clarke).

Of course, I
don't just love the erudite writing. I love her characters. From her detective Lord Peter Wimsey to Harriet Vane to Inspector Parker to the Dowager Duchess of Denver to Mr. Thipps' mother in Whose Body?--her books are sprinkled with incredible and at times incredibly funny characters. I particularly like the way she develops Wimsey's character--especially over the course of the Harriet books. I have read all the books in the Wimsey series, but her books are such that I could reread them over and over again (and have and do). I reach for Sayers when I need a pick-me-up, a soothing comfort read, good writing, great quotes, a good dose of Golden Age mystery--any or all of the above.


Yvette said...

Good choice for S, Bev.

But as much as I like the Peter Wimsey mysteries and LOVED Ian Carmichael in the PBS show - I never believed in the romance between Peter and Harriet.

But I still loved the books. Thanks to you, Bev, I've just read WHOSE BODY and realized I'd never read it before. Somehow I missed it first time around.

Anonymous said...

Bev - Sayers is one of my favourite authors :-). I really like the character of Harriet Vane, and the mysteries are interesting and believable, too. An excellent choice for "S!"

Anonymous said...

Great choice Bev, Sayers is a great writer and a superb prose stylist. Unfortunately, I do find her particularly prone to some of those pesky 'isms' that Margot rightly draws attention to. But times change. I know what you mean Yvette and I do like Carmichael, but I LOVED Petherbridge when he played the older Peter opposite Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane - wonderfully and convincingly romantic.