Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Lord Peter Views the Body - Dorothy L Sayers

I really, really wanted to like this book. It held out so much promise.

This is a collection of short-stories feature Lord Peter, a highly intelligent, wealthy and athletic crime-solving aristocrat living in London in the 1920s. I love murder mysteries and stories set in Britain between World War I and World War 2 and was hoping this would fill the void left now that I've read every single Agatha Christie novel.

Alas, it was not to be.

We get told rather than shown Lord Peter's powers of deduction. In most of the stories the reader has no opportunity to solve the mystery themselves and generally the stories are not strong enough to stand on their own (although one or two have a ghoulish appeal - particularly a jealous artist who disposes of his victims by casting them in metal and turning them into furniture). I felt irritated and annoyed by the lofty arrogance of the English upper-crust and very disappointed in the book - Dorothy Sayer's works, written in the 1920s and 1930s, are still being published today, indicating they have stood the test of time.

The only thing that gives me hope are a few lukewarm reviews of this book on the internet by readers who are fans of Dorothy Sayers, who say this is far from her best work.

So I will reserve judgment on Dorothy Sayers and try one of her longer novels. But I definitely would not recommend Lord Peter Views the Body as a first Sayers novel.

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