Thursday, 19 November 2015

'Whose Body?' by Dorothy L. Sayers (1923)

Synopsis: Whose Body? is the first book in the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries. Lord Peter Wimsey is the middle child of the Duke and Duchess of Denver and lives in an expensive new flat just opposite London's Green Park. Peter enjoys dining out, playing the piano, collecting expensive rare books, and solving crimes. He does the latter with the assistance of his personal valet Bunter and his best friend Charles Parker who works for Scotland Yard. Peter's mother then telephones to say that Alfred Thipps, an architect hired to do some work at her local church, has found a naked male corpse in his bath. Mr Thipps is a timid man and has no idea who the corpse is or how he could have possibly come to be in the bathtub. But since a wealthy financier called Sir Reuben Levy has also gone missing, the bullish Inspector Sugg of Scotland Yard suspects a possible connection. Both Thipps and his maid Gladys are then arrested on suspicion of murder. However, Peter and Charles both believe that there is far more to this case than meets the eye and decide to investigate the matter...

After finally finishing off the Sherlock Holmes canon, I've now decided to make the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries my next detective series project. I've read one of the books in this series before (The Nine Tailors) and I remember quite enjoying it but that was many years ago and for some reason I just never got around to reading any of the other books.

Although I've read a few reviews from people who have said that Whose Body? is fairly weak in comparison to the later books in the series, I still really liked this book for the most part. Sayers' descriptions are excellent and the mystery is decent but I enjoyed the book more for its deliciously witty dialogue and characters than anything else. Lord Peter himself is a hugely interesting and loveable character! He's warm, cultured, witty and sarcastic and is fiercely intelligent and endearingly vulnerable (he's suffering from PTSD). His friends Bunter and Charles are wonderful characters as well and I loved Peter's bromances with them! :D

I wouldn't class Whose Body? as being one of the very best mystery novels that I've read. There are a couple of very jarring and confusing switches from third to second-person narration and the book loses it way towards the end. Not only is the murderer obvious, their method of getting the body in the bath is extremely far-fetched and their written confession pretty tedious. But, again, I did still really like this book overall and I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series which I hear are better. Rather than going reading the entire series in a year (as I did with the Sherlock Holmes canon) I've decided to give myself up to 18 months to finish off these books - simply because there are more books in this series than there are in the Sherlock Holmes canon.

Rating: 4/5


Hayden said...

I've been trying to read all of these as well, but I've run into a lot of trouble finding copies for some reason. I've only read four so far, and all of them out of order- "Whose Body?," "Have His Carcase," "Strong Poison," and "The Nine Tailors," and I read the latter two so long ago (for school) that I barely remember them. I do like what I've read, although some times the stories can be a little confusing or overlong; "Have His Carcase," for instance, had *pages* dedicated to decoding a cipher, which I found to be a little much ;)

Hannah said...

Thanks for the comment, Hayden :) I think I might have a similar problem when I eventually get round to the 'Anne of Green Gables' books. Apparently, some the later books in the series are quite hard to get a hold of in the UK.