Lord Peter Views the Body

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Lord Peter Views the Body cover

Lord Peter Views the Body, first published in 1928, was the first collection of short stories about Lord Peter Wimsey by Dorothy L. Sayers. All of them were included in later complete collections, although some of these early works are generally considered to be below par.

Contents[edit]

  • "The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers": An artist's jealous nature leads to an investigation of his mistress' disappearance.
  • "The Entertaining Episode of the Article in Question": A grammatical mistake in French unmasks a clever criminal.
  • "The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will": The disposal of a dead man's fortune depends on his penchant for cross-word puzzles.
  • "The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag": A high-speed chase and a lost bag converge with a gruesome discovery.
  • "The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker": A lady pleads for Lord Peter's help in retrieving a valuable necklace, and more importantly, a portrait with an indiscreet inscription.
  • "The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention": Lord Peter, visiting friends in the country, sees a ghostly carriage, hears rumours of an odd will, and deduces that foul play is afoot.
  • "The Vindictive Story of the Footsteps That Ran": Lord Peter deduces the whereabouts of a cleverly hidden murder weapon.
  • "The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste": Lord Peter's celebrated palate exposes two impostors seeking a secret formula.
  • "The Learned Adventure of the Dragon's Head": Viscount St. George appears as a boy as Lord Peter uses clues from a rare book to find a treasure.
  • "The Piscatorial Farce of the Stolen Stomach": Involving several Scotsmen, a digestive organ, and a handful of diamonds.
  • "The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face": Prompted by a discussion with strangers on a train, Lord Peter investigates the murder of a man whose face was disfigured after death.
  • "The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba": Lord Peter infiltrates a den of ruthless thieves; notable for unusual technology.

Comment[edit]

It is sometimes forgotten that the 'Golden Age' of book-length detective stories and thrillers between the Wars overlapped with and emerged from the previous era of the short magazine story, typified by Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories (the last collection of which was published in 1927, a year before 'Lord Peter Views The Body'), Doctor Thorndyke or G K Chesterton's Father Brown stories. Sayers was commissioned by her publisher Gollancz to edit two collections of these classic short stories, and her own short stories, as here, are hugely enjoyable, full of ingenuity, imagination and satisfyingly bizarre elements, often informed by Sayers' personal interests and experiences.

Sayers' take on familiar fictional forms - rural ghost story, Boys' Own hidden treasure adventure, criminal gang adventure, society jewel robbery, inheritance conundrum and domestic murder among them - is always original, imaginative and brilliant.