Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers fulfilled the “Book with a Question in the Title” of the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan and have been trying to read her complete words for the past two years. Ms. Sayers seemed an easy fit.
I liked the novel but didn’t love it, mainly because of style. Written in 1923, the book used the “parlor room” reveal as many of Ms. Christie’s books do.
The end of the story was a complete confession by the criminal with details of how he committed the crime, balanced the two bodies in the story, and cleaned up after himself. The culprit also implied that he’d kill himself after the letter was finished.
I have some problems.
Number 1: He gets away with it. Suicide gives the bad guy a perfect escape. It solves the mystery on a fine point. I hate that. If they murdered someone, they should be punished. Especially this guy. He planned the murder out for years. He gets to escape with suicide. It’s a cheap ending. Midsommer Murders (BBCTV) did that a few times. I stopped watching. It’s not satisfying as a viewer/reader to have the criminal slip off in the end.
Number 2: Our detective gets no good resolve. Lord Peter Wimsey (A great character with tons of quirks. I love him.) doesn’t get the kudos of capturing his man. He figured the murderer out and gave the bad guy a hint. Sigh. No credit, no legitimizing him as a detective. I grumbled though I don’t think Lord Peter would care.
Number 3: When the criminal gives you a blow-by-blow of how they did it, it feels like a magician telling you how he performs his tricks. It takes away from the fun of the detective discovering the details bit by bit. I’m also jaded from years of cozy mysteries and most of Agatha Christie’s book. It’s almost as if we are reading the author notes, the behind the scenes of her planning the crime to write about. I don’t love the “Parlor Room Reveal” and in this book, Ms. Sayers over-did it. Of course, the book is almost 100 years old, so I’ll give her a pass.
Overall, Lord Peter Wimsey is a fun character to play along with. This is the first novel in a series of fifteen books and five short story collections. But we walk into the book as if we know Lord Peter, his man Bunter, and Detective Parker. It’s brilliant. I worried at first I wasn’t reading the first in the series, but no, this is how Ms. Sayers starts. Love it! The book made fun of itself by referring to Sherlock Holmes. Lord Peter knows he’s a caricature of the great detective. The story also played out great scenes of life in England in 1923. For a first book, Ms. Sayers wrote a knockout.
I give Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers four pince-nez.