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.