Lord Peter Views the Body, by Dorothy L Sayers

>> Saturday, December 27, 2003

While I wait for the next Lord Peter novel to arrive, so that I can read the books in the correct order, I read one of Dorothy L. Sayers's anthologies: Lord Peter Views the Body.

This one has 12 short stories starring Lord Peter. He doesn't exactly "view the body" in all of them, since not all of them are murder mysteries, but they are all entertaining, all the same. My grade for the whole thing: B+.

I'm too lazy to provide summaries of all of them, but some amazon readers have, so just go there if you're interested. Ok, so what exactly are these stories?

Some are gruesome: The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers, The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag. I liked the first one very much, it had a "horror story to tell beside the fire" feel. The second was less striking, almost "eh".

Quite a few are "find the will / inheritance" stories, which I like, since they often involve following clues á la treasure hunt: The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will, The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention, The Learned Adventure of the Dragon's Head, The Piscatorial Farce of the Stolen Stomach. Of these, the weakest was Bone of Contention, which was also the longest story in the book. The others were all really good, and each had certain elements that I loved: crosswords in Uncle Meleager's Will, Lord Peter's relationship with his nephew in Dragon's Head and the gruesomeness of the Stolen Stomach, which would actually make it fit well in my "gruesome" category.

The anthology does contain a couple of more classic murder mysteries (The Vindictive Story of the Footsteps That Ran, The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face), but I thought these weren't really very good. I guess the lengths (most of these were around 20 pages or so) doesn't lend itself well to a clasic whodunnit format, since there's not enough space for good development and alternate explanations.

There were also 4 more stories, which I can't really categorize: The Entertaining Episode of the Article in Question (interesting, showed me my French is still pretty good, even after years without practising it, since I did catch the clue), The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker (boring story), The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba (the plot itself was not too good, but I loved the description of the meeting of the secret society) and The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste (very enjoyable, in which Lord Peter, while on a secret mission, has to prove his identity through a wine tasting).

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy mystery short stories. I'll have to get some more!


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