Lord Peter Wimsey has always been my favourite among the more laid-back, classical detectives, ever since I first read them as a teenager (after watching the BBC TV series with the fabulous Ian Carmichael). Back then, I read them in German translation, but am now doing a re-read of the whole series in the original language which, needless to say, is much more to be preferred – I do not know whether anyone ever actually talked like that, even back in the twenties and thirties, but it is great fun just to relish the dialogue.
Lord Peter Views the Body is a collection of stories and does not quite live up to novels, but for the most part is very enjoyable. The quality of course does vary a bit, but the only one I did not like at all was the final one, “The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba”, because it’s rather a bit too cloak and dagger. My personal favourites are “The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste”, which basically describes a wine-tasting competition, and “The Learned Adventure of the Dragon’s Head”, which features Lord Peter’s nephew George, a dragon (of course) and a pirate’s treasure – both are just great fun and a pleasure to read.
I suppose the Lord Peter novels and stories count as “cosy mysteries”, but it struck me while reading this collection that on closer look many of the stories are not really all that cosy, but paint a rather grim view of human nature: Most people making an appearance vary from petty and mean-spirited to downright evil, with only very few exceptions that one would call “good” with hesitation. That might be due to the genre Sayers was writing in, or to her Christian world view, but will bear keeping in mind when I go on to read the other Lord Peter novels.