Whose Body?, by Dorothy L. Sayers

>> Monday, October 06, 2003

This weekend I read Whose Body?, by Dorothy L. Sayers.

The stark naked body was lying in the tub.Not unusual for a proper bath, but highly irregular for murder -- especially witha pair of gold pince-nez deliberately perched before the sightless eyes. What's more, the face appeared to have been shaved after death. The police assumed that the victim was a prominent financier, but Lord Peter Wimsey, who dabbled in mystery detection as a hobby, knew better. In this, his first murder case, Lord Peter untangles the ghastly mystery of the corpse in the bath.
It was very good, a B.

From the info I've been able to gather, this one's the first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery. I'd read some of them in high school, from my school library, so earlier this year I decided to read the full list, in order.

Whose Body? had an interesting mystery, but one that wasn't particularly difficult to guess. There weren't all that many suspects, and it was even pretty obvious what had happened. Intrincate, yes; interesting, that too, but suspensful it wasn't.

What made this book good was the writing and the characters, especially Lord Peter. such a fascinating character! So fatuous on the outside, but all those little clues as to his past in the war. I'm looking forward to reading more about him.

This book was written in 1923, and many things felt terribly alien, most especially the way Jews were alluded to. I don't know if I'd describe it as anti-Semitism, exactly, since there wasn't any hostility expressed from the characters who were supposed to be sympathetic, and the one Jewish character was portrayed as a very nice man. What there was was a lot of mentions to the fact that someone was Jewish, or about how Jews were a certain way. Things that didn't necessarily express the author's opinion, but which didn't have any bearing on the plot either. I suppose they might be simply a faithful representation of how many people were at the time, but it still made me uncomfortable.

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