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"Whose Body?" by Dorothy Sayers

Whose Body? may be downloaded for free in our ebook catalog.

Meet Peter Wimsey, an English lord with a penchant for solving sordid crimes. Mervyn Bunter, Wimsey's valet, plays Dr. Watson to Lord Peter's skewed Sherlock. The unflappable Bunter is a gifted investigator in his own right and a skilled photographer of fingerprints. He also serves to keep the mercurial Lord Peter on course. Throw in detective Parker, a mild-mannered Scottish bachelor and dedicated Devil's Advocate to Lord Peter's impulsive conclusions. Add Inspector Sugg--the bumbling "arrest first and ask questions later" police official who is Parker's boss. With these colorful characters you have the makings of an entertaining romp of a detective novel, given author Dorothy Sayers' dry wit, careful plot weaving and charming use of language.

What makes this a unique detective novel is that before the crime can be solved, the investigators must decide if a crime has been committed and, more importantly, who is this dead man to begin with? And what is he doing in someone else's bathtub wearing only a pince nez*? Lord Peter's soft-hearted knack for making friends with the suspects complicates the investigation and sometimes weakens his resolve to complete the investigation. After all, for him this is just a hobby.

Were it not for his man, Bunter, the wayward lord might have ridden off into the sunset rather than pursue this case to its rightful end. It is Bunter who gains the confidence of the suspects' man servants. He gleefully, if respectfully, confesses that he plied his snitches with Lord Peter's best port wine and some carefully applied defamation of Lord Peter's character.

Lord Peter himself makes some fascinating observations regarding what he sees at the crime scene and why they have relevance to the crime. Unless she has a photographic memory, the reader will find herself backtracking to refresh her mind regarding these clues. To her credit, Sayers carefully sews up every clue in what has got to literature's the longest suicide note (written by the perpetrator, of course.)

*A pince nez is something like a pair of glasses with no earpieces. The device "pinches" the "nose."


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