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The start of a detective legend
Whose Body? - Dorothy L. Sayers
Member Name: darren55
Whose Body? - Dorothy L. Sayers
Date: 20/09/10, updated on 20/09/10 (43 review reads)
Advantages: Enjoyable in parts
Disadvantages: A bit brutal about jewishness
Dorothy L Sayers is often placed together with Agatha Christie as the doyenne of female crime writers, both wrote in the 1930's and both tended towards the more upper class genre of crime writing. None more so than DLS whose main character is the very upper class Lord Peter Wimsey, Wimsey is somewhere in his thirties has a butler called Bunter. Wimsey is a bit of a mix between Wooster and Jeeves, with the monocle, dapper manner and generally impeccable manners but you suspect a complete nightmare to try and get along with.
As a Lord of the realm he is of course incredibly weathy and has a domineering mother who one day rings him up with the simple statement that a friend of theirss has found a body in the bath. The story is then on, Wimsey manages to see the body he gets to talk to a pet detective in Parker who he knew from college days and he baits the lantern headed Suggs for his stupidity. Suggs is of course a man from the lower middle classes and obviously hasn't got a brain to think for itself.
The crime soon develops into a series of chapters where Wimseys intellect and keen observational skills spot facts which the detectives from Scotland Yard miss. This is obviously similar to the great Sherlock Holmes but whereas Holmes tended to play his hand very close to his chest and only reveal the true details at the end, in this Wimsey constantly astounds the detectives with insights they have missed. He does it in a rather annoying foppish manner, he also has a habit of letting them go through the evidence once then he will point out all the facts they have missed. This is enjoyable once but not several times and in almost every chapter, it does start to stretch the imagination when he spots things the police really should have worked out for themselves.
The whole point of this novel is who is the body, the body is found naked except for a pair of gold prince-nez, along with the body is the disappearance in a house not far away of a rich Jewish banker called Levy. Levy appears to have left the house in the dead of night, wearing not a stitch and you know the two are connected but of course only Lord Wimsey can work out how.
The novel is an interesting one, and I actually prefer Sayers writing when compared with Christie, there is more warmth in her characters and her detective skills are much more rounded and believable. However, the character of Wimsey isn't, the thought that a debonair rich Lord would as a hobby decide to start investigating murder mysteries and of course as he goes along these murders keep coming across his path. Very lucky for him!
This novel is enjoyable but as with all pre-war novels there is latent anti-semitic language placed in it. The fate of Levy, the Hebrew banker as he's described in the novel isn't one which is handled in anything like a respectful manner and there is a sense that he gets what he deserves mainly due to being a rich Jew.
Summary: Not the best but ok.