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Dorothy L. Sayers

upper-class twit of the century

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Dorothy L. Sayers is best known for her "Lord Peter Wimsey" series of novels and short stories, though she wrote many other short stories and a number of plays and theological essays as well. I should say that her Peter Wimsey novels are among my all-time favorites; reading (or re-reading) one is like enjoying a gourmet piece of chocolate. The writing is terrific, and can be savored slowly.

Peter Wimsey, brother to the Duke of Denver, war hero, and amateur sleuth, has been described as the diametrical opposite of Sherlock Holmes. Both are brilliant, of course, but where Holmes is stern, cold, and implacable, Wimsey is (on the surface) one more well-educated upper-class twit. His manner hides a keen mind, and all-in-all makes him considerably more fun.

Of particular note are the quartet of novels which pair Wimsey with novelist Harriet Vane: Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night, and Busman's Honeymoon. It is in these four that Wimsey's personal growth is most apparent.

All of the Wimsey novels are currently in print; The Nine Tailors is published by a different company than the rest, and so is harder to find; it's a trade paperback while the others are mass market size. I stumbled across it by accident. It's well worth seeking out.

Recently, Jill Paton Walsh completed Sayers' last, unfinished Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane novel, Thrones, Dominations. I approached it with some trepidation, but found that it was a credible, enjoyable effort. I read it on the plane from Canberra to Los Angeles, and if it didn't last out the flight it at least made the first few hours more enjoyable.


Whose Body?
Reviews: 1 December 1998
Clouds of Witnesses
Reviews: 1 December 1998
Unnatural Death
Reviews: 1 December 1998
Strong Poison
Reviews: 1 December 1998
Have His Carcase
Reviews: 1 December 1998
The Nine Tailors
Reviews: 1 January 1999
Gaudy Night
Reviews: 1 December 1998, 1 September 2003
Busman's Honeymoon
Reviews: 1 December 1998
Thrones, Dominations
With Jill Paton Walsh.
The Whimsical Christian
Reviews: 1 November 1999

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