Whose Body?

There’s an unfamiliar body wearing nothing but a splendid pair of gold pince-nez in Mr. Thipps’ bath in Battersea. Inspector Sugg arrives from Scotland Yard and arrests Mr. Thipps and the maid on the spot. But when a rich and respected financier disappears from his house in Park Lane it’s clear that this is no ordinary case. Is it the body of Sir Reuben Levy? If it is what’s his connection with Mr Alfred Thipps and if it isn’t whose body is it and where is Sir Reuben?

Luckily Thipps is an architect working on the church roof at Denver, and the Dowager Duchess of Denver on hearing his news phones her son Lord Peter Wimsey directly. Lord Peter drops everything and hot foots it to Battersea where, with his valet Mervyn Bunter (a keen photographer) he gets to work on the case. When they meet with Inspector Parker who’s investigating the disappearance of Sir Reuben Levy the three put their heads together to solve the puzzle.

This was all a lot of fun, silly really, a bit of whimsy even. First published in 1923, it’s Dorothy L. Sayers first book featuring her amateur sleuth and I’m glad I went back to the series and started from the beginning. When I read Gaudy Night (published in 1935) with Lord Peter coming to the rescue of Harriet Vane half way through to solve the mystery I found him pretty annoying, but in this introduction he’s given a family and a back story that make him not just bearable but even likeable. Plagued by nightmares from his experiences in the first world war gives him our sympathy and also a better understanding of his relationship with Bunter who was with him in the war. His family are fun if caricatures, the formidable Dowager Duchess and the stuffed shirt of a pompous older brother, now Lord Denvers. They both provide useful props for Lord Peter to react against, either as the embarrassingly useless younger brother or the marvellously clever younger son.

‘The rest was simple’ the confessor says at the end, during a long explanation which is anything but simple and was perhaps a bit too convoluted to hold my full attention; but I did enjoy this puzzle, Bunter, Lord Peter and Inspector Parker were good company and I’m looking forward to Clouds of Witness, the next instalment.

17 thoughts on “Whose Body?

  1. Gaudy Night has been on my wish list for a while. I know these are slight and whimsical, but that’s no bad thing in these trying times…I’ve seen some TV adaptations of the stories over the years, and remember Harriet V as a strong character. There’s a hint of Bertie Wooster perhaps about Lord P – without the stupidity. He even has a butler.

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    1. He does remind me of Bertie but I don’t think he’s quite so endearing, but you’re right sometimes a whimsical book is just what’s needed and this is it! It’s a slighter book than Gaudy Night and I think it would be better to start here at the beginning, I think I made a mistake just jumping straight in. I hope you enjoy it!

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  2. I’ve never read any Sayers, but have been meaning to check out some of her Lord Peter Wimsy stories. I have two on my shelves: Nine Tailors and Strong Poison. Your review sparked my interest. Interesting side note in that Stephen King is a huge fan and actually attempted at one point to pen a Lord Peter story of his own.

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    1. Seriously?! I’m always amazed by your snippets of information about Stephen King! I think Strong Poison is something to do with Harriet Vane, I’m looking forward to it, I might even have to read Gaudy Night again in sequence!

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    1. I agree he isn’t a patch on Bertie and does have a very superior attitude, as if the rest of us are there for his amusement but I thought Parker was a good character and managed to show Lord P in a rather ridiculous light so he was easier to bear! Was it Gaudy Night that you didn’t like?

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      1. Sorry Rose I mis read your comment, if you had read Lord P before Bertie you might like him better – I don’t think so, no one is as endearing as Bertie!

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  3. Ah good, you can’t tempt me with this one, since I’m in the tiny minority of people who can’t stand Lord Peter and his whimsy! I also can’t stand Bunter, or Lord Peter’s family, or Harriet Vane. But otherwise the books are great… 😂 Glad you enjoyed it, though – I’ve always been a bit sorry I have such an allergic reaction to them.

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  4. I almost certainly read some of this author’s fiction in the past, back in the days of my youth when I was mainlining Golden Age mysteries as a means of escape from school. That said, so much of the detail has slipped my mind that I could quite happily read them again! This sounds like a delightful introduction to the series – and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of whimsy now and again, especially if it’s skilfully done. 🙂

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  5. This sounds like such a fun whodunit! I am largely familiar with Dorothy L. Sayers through her short stories included in the British Library detective series collection, but I do want to buy some of her separate stand-alone fiction. I have also found out that she considered her translation of Dante her best work. I may check out some for my Italia Reading Challenge this year.

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