Who are you?

I think the only Dorothy L. Sayer's mystery I haven't reviewed on Bookhound is her very first novel, Whose body? Published in 1923, Whose body? introduced Lord Peter Wimsey to his public. It's a cracking read, which has all the elements which made Lord Peter so beloved to his fans. It's a brilliantly constructed crime novel, one of Sayers' best; it's rather more than a detective story, you get to know about the lives of Wimsey and his family and friends intimately. There's rather more than a pinch of boldly black humour; and a good dollop of humanity that never lets the reader forget that though we may all have enjoyed this blackly jolly jape, real life murders are neither funny nor in any way entertaining.

Wimsey is flung into a murder mystery when the architect responsible for maintaining the church at Wimsey's ancestral home, Duke's Denver, finds a very dead body in his bath. With Inspector Sugg determined to arrest him for murder, Wimsey wades in to try to help. Meanwhile a top financier goes missing, surely they can't be connected?

Whose body? is as good an example of Golden Age detective fiction as you can hope to find. Humane, funny, clever; I don't think any fictional detective has had a better premiere.


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