Whose Body? (a Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery), by Dorothy Sayers (review)

April 5, 2013 Book Reviews 4 ★★★★½

Whose Body? (a Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery), by Dorothy Sayers (review)Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers
Series: Lord Peter Wimsey #1
Published by Open Road Media on First publication: 1923. This edition: April 9, 2013
Genres: Mystery, British mystery
Pages: 208
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon
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In the debut mystery in Dorothy L. Sayers’s acclaimed Lord Peter Wimsey series, the case of a dead bather draws Lord Peter into the 1st of many puzzling mysteries.

Lord Peter Wimsey spends his days tracking down rare books, and his nights hunting killers. Though the Great War has left his nerves frayed with shellshock, Wimsey continues to be London’s greatest sleuth—and he’s about to encounter his oddest case yet.

A strange corpse has appeared in a suburban architect’s bathroom, stark naked save for an incongruous pince-nez. When Wimsey arrives on the scene, he is confronted with a once-in-a-lifetime puzzle. The police suspect that the bathtub’s owner is the murderer, but Wimsey’s investigation quickly reveals that the case is much stranger than anyone could have predicted.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

A body in the bath

Whose Body? is the first of Dorothy Sayers’ classic mystery novels starring the inimitable Lord Peter Wimsey, and to borrow the slang of the day, it’s a corker.  The body of a middle-aged gentleman has turned up in the bathtub of a timid and respectable architect, stark naked except for a pince-nez. Who is he, and how and why did he come to be in Mr. Thipps’ bathroom?  Lord Peter takes on the case for fun, but soon realizes he is up against a devilishly clever – and ruthless – murderer.

In Whose Body? we get our first glimpse of Lord Peter’s silly-ass-about-town façade, and the formidable intelligence and detective ability behind the mask.  We also meet a number of the series’ recurring characters, including Bunter, Lord Peter’s loyal valet and former sergeant; Peter’s mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver; and Inspector Charles Parker of Scotland Yard.   

Sayers’ writing is witty and compelling, and the crime itself is every bit as intricate, unusual, and carefully plotted as you would expect from this grande dame of Golden Age mystery.  If you haven’t yet made Lord Peter’s acquaintance, Whose Body? is the perfect place to start.

I should add that the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries are among my favorite mystery series of all time!  I’m grateful to Open Road Media for the opportunity to re-read and review this one.  (And no, my review is in no way influenced by receiving a review e-copy.)


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2014

4 Responses to “Whose Body? (a Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery), by Dorothy Sayers (review)”

  1. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    Oh, what fun — you get to read them for the first time! Among my favorite titles are the four which feature Harriet Vane (in order: Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, and Busman’s Honeymoon), along with Murder Must Advertise. But they’re all pretty good.

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      They are a lot of fun — and extremely well-written! Lord Peter can appear affected and superficial at first; he becomes more relatable as the series goes on and you see more and more beneath the mask. But even in this book, you see the man behind the facade.