Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lord Peter Views the Body: Review

Still taking a break from Middlemarch (I'm finding it a bit hard-going). I decided to read some nice classic Golden Age short stories from the hand of one of the queens of British mysteries, Dorothy L Sayers. Her collection, Lord Peter Views the Body, is a delightful gathering of stories featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. I have put together a brief note on each story. I enjoyed them all, but I will say that my favorites are "The Vindictive Story of the Footsteps that Ran," "The Biblulous Business of a Matter of Taste," and "The Learned Adventure of the Dragon's Head."

"The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers": A story of jealousy and a well-known sculptor's plan for revenge. Fortunately, Wimsey is on hand to prevent the artist from completing the second half of his masterpiece.

"The Entertaining Episode of the Article in Question": Wimsey proves that a little knowledge of French can go a long way towards capturing a jewel thief.

"The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will": A clever old man leaves clues to his will in a crossword. Wimsey proves himself frivolous enough to decipher it.

"The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag": A high-speed motorcyclist gets a nasty surprise when he opens a bag picked up from a cloak room.

"The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker": Wimsey uses a lovely bit of sleight of hand to silence a blackmailer.

"The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention": Wimsey delves into the mystery of the death coach--a ghostly coach pulled by headless white horses and driven by a headless coachman.

"The Vindictive Story of the Footsteps That Ran": His lordship solves a murder by noticing which way the footsteps ran.

"The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste": Will the real Lord Peter please stand up? Or at least correctly identify six varieties of wine. A story of not one, not two, but three Wimseys.

"The Learned Adventure of the Dragon's Head": Wimsey and his nephew find an old pirate treasure. My favorite of these stories--I love the interaction between LPW and "Pickled Gherkins."

"The Piscatorial Farce of the Stolen Stomach": Great Uncle Joseph chooses an unusual hiding place for his wealth.

"The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face": Wimsey solves a murder using clues provided in the discussion amongst his fellow train travelers.

"The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba": Lord Peter is reported dead....and events that follow lead to the capture of a gang of criminals.

The stories are fun. Not a lot of detail, but that's to be expected with short stories. Sayers does manage to pull the reader right in regardless. Four stars--but, then, I am biased. I love all things Wimsey.

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