Thursday, December 13, 2018

Whose Body?

Whose Body? Dorothy L. Sayers. 1923/1995. HarperTorch. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: "Oh damn!" said Lord Peter Wimsey at Piccadilly Circus.

Premise/plot: Whose Body? is the first novel in a mystery series starring Lord Peter Wimsey as an amateur detective. (He solves crimes with a little help from his butler/valet, Bunter, and in later mysteries with his girlfriend/wife.) In the opening pages of the novel, Lord Peter receives a phone call--or 'phone call--from his mother the Dowager Duchess. A murder has been committed. A naked man has been found in a bath tub of an acquaintance of hers. Is he interested in solving the case and working with Scotland Yard?

My thoughts: As a whole, I love, love, love the series by Dorothy Sayers. That being said, I don't love each and every book in the series equally. I enjoyed this one very much. I found it to be witty and delightful. It was super quotable. I would recommend it as a starting point for reading the series.

  • Exit the amateur of first editions; new motive introduced by solo bassoon; enter Sherlock Holmes, disguised as a walking gentleman. There goes Bunter. Invaluable fellow--never offers to do his job when you've told him to do somethin' else. (5)
  • "Sugg's a beautiful, braying ass," said Lord Peter. "He's like a detective in a novel." (18)
  • "I love trifling circumstances," said Lord Peter. "so many men have been hanged by trifling circumstances." (20)
  •  "Parker, acushla, you're an honour to Scotland Yard. I look at you, and Sugg appears a myth, a fable, an idiot-boy, spawned in a moonlight hour by some fantastic poet's brain. Sugg is too perfect to be possible." (23)
  • "Look here, Wimsey--you've been reading detective stories; you're talking nonsense." (29)
  • Of course, if this were a detective story, there'd have been a convenient shower exactly an hour before the crime and a beautiful set of marks which could only have come between two and three in the morning, but this being real life in a London November, you might as well expect footprints in Niagra. (44)
  • "It's a hard life, valeting by day and developing by night--morning tea at any time from 6:30 to 11, and criminal investigation at all hours. It's wonderful, the ideas these rich men with nothing to do get into their heads." (49)
  • "Have you any Scotch blood in you, Parker?" inquired his colleague, bitterly.
    "Not that I know of," replied Parker. "Why?"
    "Because of all the cautious, ungenerous, deliberate and cold-blooded devils I know," said Lord Peter, "you are the most cautious, ungenerous, deliberate and cold-blooded. Here I am, sweating my brains out to introduce a really sensational incident into your dull and disreputable little police investigation, and you refuse to show a single spark of enthusiasm."
    "Well, it's no good jumping at conclusions."
    "Jump? You don't even crawl distantly within sight of a conclusion. I believe if you caught the cat with her head in the cream-jug you'd say it was conceivable that the jug was empty when she got there."
    "Well, it would be conceivable, wouldn't it?" (51)
  • "There's nothing you can't prove if your outlook is only sufficiently limited. Look at Sugg." (69)
  • Assigning a motive for the murder of a person without relations or antecedents or even clothes is like trying to visualize the fourth dimension--admirable exercise for the imagination, but arduous and inconclusive. (82)
  • "One demands a little originality in these days, even from murderers," said Lady Swaffham. "Like dramatists, you know--so much easier in Shakespeare's time, wasn't it? Always the same girl dressed up as a man, and even that borrowed from Boccaccio or Dante or somebody. I'm sure if I'd been a Shakespeare hero, the very minute I saw a slim-legged young page-boy I'd have said: "Odsbodikins! There's that girl again!" (123)
  • "And in short stories," said Lord Peter, "it has to be put in statement form, because the real conversation would be so long and twaddly and tedious, and nobody would have the patience to read it. Writers have to consider their readers, you see." (158)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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