I have been compiling a list of most popular and recommended Cozies, and next on my list is the first book in the Lord Peter Wimsey Series by Dorothy L. Sayers, “Whose Body?” I recently re-read this 1923 classic and I enjoyed it immensely.
I have written about the Lord Peter series a few times already. Way back when this blog was young in 2006, I wrote about the 1970s TV series. And, also a long time ago, I wrote an article about Dorothy L. Sayers as one of the Four Golden Age’s Queens of Crime.
Lord Peter Wimsey is the younger brother of the fictitious Duke of Denver. Lord Peter, along with his trusty servant Bunter, engages in crime solving as a very serious hobby. His other main pastime is collecting early editions of books.
Bunter’s role is imporant to the series. He is very astute and his photography skills are put to good use by Lord Peter in his sleuthing activities. As I said when I reviewed the 1970s series, this is one of the few Cozy Mystery series where the sleuth is British upper class and yet the butler is not smarter than the sleuth! I think Bunter comes close to being Lord Peter’s equal in ability, but he does not surpass him.
Also a regular member of the cast of characters of this series are Lord Peter’s mother, the dowager Duchess, and Inspector Parker of Scotland Yard. Inspector Parker is a friend of Lord Peter’s who provides a convenient way for Wimsey easily to gain access to crime scenes and other information that is normally only known to the police. Parker is refreshingly smart for a policeman, but another police inspector, Sugg, plays a role as a dimwitted police foil who always gets things wrong and tries to impede Lord Peter’s private sleuthing activities.
“Whose Body?” is typical of classic era Cozies in that although it contains several very strong and interesting characters, the main attraction is the strength of the mysteries themselves. Sayers, as did Agatha Christie as another example, crafted her books with great care to make the whodunits the center pieces of the stories with Wimsey working diligently throughout to solve the logic puzzles that the mysteries present.
I really enjoyed revisiting this series and highly recommend it. There are only 12 books that were completed by Dorothy L. Sayers, so the series is not too short or too long (in my opinion).
The Lord Peter Wimsey series was written by Sayers during the 1920s through 1930s. Please note, that the series, although populated by what I am sure were very liberal characters for their time, (especially Wimsey, Bunter, Parker and Wimsey’s mother), does contain some views of people that are dated and inappropriate as we view them now.