Whose Body? - Dorothy L. Sayers I've been reading a lot of fantasy lately, and decided to try something different for a change. I asked around for recommendations of some classic mystery, and Dorothy L. Sayers was suggested to me. Hence Whose Body? was my first exposure to Lord Peter Wimsey.

Anyway, the book starts out with a naked dead body found in a bathtub. You just know there's going to be a good story there.

My first observation was that this book was written in the early 1920s, and it really showed in the writing as well as in the language and mannerisms of her characters. Dorothy L. Sayers is in no way a bad writer, but I couldn't help but notice some very awkward sections where the author attempts to tell the story from another point of view in the form of letters, and you just gotta think to yourself, Surely no one ever speaks or writes like that!

Still, I took it all in stride, and didn't even mind too much the overly verbose nature of Lord Peter Wimsey. Having mistakenly thought he would be a stuffy old lord, what I didn't expect was his dry sense of humor ("Well, if he only murdered me you could still hang him--what's the good of wasting a sound, marriageable young male like yourself?") and I liked him right away.

I later realized that Whose Body? was not only the first Lord Peter Wimsey book, but also Sayers' first detective novel. It is no wonder that I found some of the "mystery" aspects of the story amateurish. I guessed who the murderer was very early on, and later his explanation didn't even really make a lot of sense to me. In a few sections, I felt the author was a bit unsure of which direction to take, and some of the clues and explanations came through feeling a tad forced. Like one reviewer said, at times the novel felt like a parody of a detective story, complete with a few satirical touches.

I am not going to judge the rest of the Wimsey books by this one alone, however, as I know how "rough" first novels usually are, and no doubt Sayers goes on to polish her writing because of how successful her detective works became. Furthermore, even though Whose Body? didn't really do it for me as a mystery, as a novel I found it to be a very pleasant and fun read.