Sunday, December 4, 2011
In the Teeth of the Evidence: Review
Just finished up In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy L Sayers. This collection represents the last bit of Sayers' fiction that I wanted to read...just so I could say I'd re-read all of her fiction this year. The collection is okay. Decent. But I don't think it represents her best work. I much prefer her earlier collections (Lord Peter Views the Body and Hangman's Holiday) and even her final stories found in Striding Folly. The writing itself isn't at fault--it's terrific as always--but the stories seem more contrived and almost as if she were pushing a bit to produce them. Here's a brief run-down of the stories:
Wimsey stories (read in the previous month):
"In the Teeth of the Evidence": Lord Peter goes to his dentist for a filling and finds himself involved in a mystery he can really sink his teeth into. His dentist is called in to identify a man who has died in a blazing fire...only his dental records can prove his identity. And it's up to Lord Peter to help prove if it was death by accident or suicide....or even murder.
"Absolutely Elsewhere": In which Lord Peter proves that a murderer just might be able to travel at the speed of light.
Montague Egg stories:
"A Shot at Goal": The boss at the local mill is murdered and Monty shows that the solution depends on an error in spelling.
"Dirt Cheap": A case of murder and missing jewels. Monty's evidence makes it seem impossible for anyone to have done it.
"False Weight": Where the clue rests with a grandfather clock--is it telling the truth or not?
"The Professor's Manuscript": Is the professor really who he says he is? And, if not, who is he?
"The Milk Bottles": Hector Puncheon, intrepid report, is pulled into an odd story of the milk bottles. For there's something decidedly fishy when the bottles start piling up outside the apartment where a man and his wife regularly quarreled--and now he's gone and she hasn't been seen for a week.
"Dilemma": This one is more a human interest story than a mystery. A night of tale-telling helps one man regain his self-respect.
"An Arrow O'er the House": What happens when a crime author's story is a bit too much like real life?
"Scrawns": Where Susan learns that appearances can be deceiving.
"Nebuchadnezzer": Can a murderer stand to watch his deed acted out before him? Or will he break under pressure?
"The Inspiration of Mr. Budd": Mr. Budd, hairdresser, uses an ingenious method to help catch a crook. His fellow barbers will soon be green with envy.
"Blood Sacrifice": Would a man give his own life, his own blood to be sure someone else would...die?
"Suspicion": Mr. Mummery suspects that he's harboring a poisoner in his house. It could be that he's right.
"The Leopard Lady": How to effect the removal of extraneous people. 1,000 pounds payable in one lump sum--no questions asked.
"The Cyprian Cat": A very strange story about a man who can't abide cats and shoots one. Or did he?
Three stars. Just.