Lord Peter Wimsey's mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, asks him to investigate something that has happened to an architect friend of hers. It seems the man got up in the morning and discovered a dead body in his bath: a dead body with pince-nez perched upon his nose. The architect, Thipps, claims never to have set eyes upon the man before, so how could his body have got into his bath? The window was left open so it could have been brought in by that route but the police don't believe it and arrest Thipps and his secretary for murder.
Wimsey discovers from a policeman friend, Parker, that a wealthy businessman called Levy has gone missing, and that the missing man bears a remarkable resemblance to the dead man in the bath... although it is not him. Examining the body Wimsey sees that the unknown man has recently been given a haircut and shave and thinks it must've been after his death. Because of the resemblance to the missing businessman, Wimsey and Parker wonder if there must be some connection between the two mysteries, but there is no real evidence to support this theory. One thing Wimsey is sure of though, Mr. Thipps did not commit this murder and it's up to him to try and prove it.
Well, this is the first Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, and though I've so far read a good handful of the series I hadn't read this one, so I thought it was about time I did. Generally speaking when approaching a new to me series, I religiously start at the beginning but a few people suggested I read the books that feature Harriet Vane first. So I did that (apart from Busman's Holiday which I'm sort of saving) and then cherry picked a couple of others. Thus, I'm all over the place with them really, but coping ok with that, but I think now I'll mainly move forward rather than all over the place, reading what I fancy, willy-nilly.
Anyway, this was very enjoyble indeed. Astonished at how good this was for a first novel, often you need to be a bit forgiving with first books but not so in this case, the writing is intelligent and superb . The mystery is solid, I had some idea of what had happened but the eventual outcome and who had done the deed and particularly why, I didn't guess at. Ingenious. Loads of wonderful humour too, both in the narrative and the dialogue. I wish I'd jotted down a few quotes but homelife is a bit chaotic at the moment. My kitchen's being renovated and looks like a bombsite and other rooms in the house are also being decorated with their contents, including my books (!), spread into any rooms that will take them. It's chaos to be honest and quotes, good as they might be, are a bit beyond me.
So now I've read the first two Wimsey books (Clouds of Witness is book two and I read that last year) and number three is Unnatural Death. I popped to the library yesterday and lo and behold there it was on the shelf, so I nabbed it... along with an Edmund Crispin and a Gladys Mitchell. I do love a bit of vintage crime.
*sigh* Lord Wimsey sounds like a good character! Pahleeze! I really want to get my pile down a bit!! I even feel a cleaning coming and anything that's been there "a few years" may go back to the thrift shop! I am sure the room it makes would be filled in no time at all though *sigh*.. I have started another murder mystery by Will Thomas.. I don't but should know every street in White Chapel and underground opium den in London! LOL
I'm reading Sayers'books out of order too and I haven't read this one yet. It's good to know her first novel is so enjoyable and I hope to get round to it one day. Sometimes books turn up at the library just when you want them!
Hi, I've just popped in via Kay's post recommending some of her favourite bloggers. it looks as if we share some tastes in crime - I've been reading a few of the British Library vintage crime series too recently - so I look forward to reading more of your reviews in future. Nice to "meet" you!
I'm surprised you are able to even read! So upsetting when the house isn't 'normal.' I liked this and really every Peter Wimsey I have read. I am reading the Harriet books separately but it has been ages since I read the first one, and must get going!
Lovely review..I love it when you enjoy books I have so there is no danger of increasing my tbr pile ...lol
The follow ons by Jill Paton Walsh are good too (when you've gobbled up all DL Sayers) and I'd recommend her Imogen Quy series ..they are really good reads!
I Rattled through the last two you recommended....how Lovely Thanks!
Hope the kitchen is progressing well ..I bet it'll be lovely when it's done :o)
Pat: One of my jobs when I get the use of my study back will be to be a bit ruthless and weed out a few books that have been on the tbr pile too long. It won't be easy. lol
Margaret: I don't usually read series out of order but Dorothy L. Sayers seems to be an author you can do that with.
FictionFan: Hello, nice to meet you. Thanks for popping in. I've seen you around commenting on other blogs from time to time... Kay's and Margaret's I think. I'll pop and visit your blog in a moment. Always nice to meet another crime book fan.
Nan: To be honest there isn't a lot else to do other than read... so much chaos everywhere with so many rooms uninhabitable. I hate it. It was meant to take two weeks and has taken three and going into the fourth next week. Hoping next week will see the work done. Books are keeping me sane.
Val: I own one of the JPW sequels already, which is good. I think it's Thrones of Domination or something.
So pleased you liked the last two book recs.
The kitchen is close to being done and thank goodness for that. I use it a lot and have missed it. Heating stuff in the microwave is just not the same. lol Lucky one of my daughters lives nearby and has given us several good meals a week.
The first time I read the Wimsey novels, I read them out of order too. Just reading them as I found them. A few years ago, I read them in order for a Wimsey challenge. I love this one for a lot of reasons--not least because of the Dowager Duchess and her scenes with Milligan and recounting the experiences in the courtroom.
I have to say that the Jill Paton Walsh books don't stand up to Sayers's work. Her Imogen Quy novels are quite good--primarily because they are her own characters, but I don't think she does justice to Sayers's characters and she certainly doesn't have the literary background and classical education to produce the right flavor.
Bev: It's one of the few series where it doesn't seem to harm reading them out of order... testiment I think to the cleverness of Dorothy L.Sayers. I haven't tried the JPW ones yet but am not expecting them to be as good. Mainly because, as you say, she just isn't Dorothy L. Sayers!
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