Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: WHOSE BODY? by Dorothy L. Sayers

book cover
A $2 mystery for 25 cents?! That's a bargain right there.
Original Publication Date: 1923

Genre: mystery

Topics: amateur sleuth

Review by heidenkind:

Mr. Thipps is shocked when he goes to take a bath one morning and finds a body in his tub. Whose Body?! Har har. Private investigator Lord Peter Wimsey is fascinated with the case and sets out to prove Mr. Thipps is innocent of any crime.

This is my first Dorothy L. Sayers novel, and I can understand why people enjoy them. I loved Lord Peter! He has the charm of Bertie Wooster, but with Jeeves's deductive reasoning and a Tortured Soul (WWI, etc.). The tone of Whose Body? is also similar to a PG Wodehouse story--very quick-witted, light, and fun. Except for the dead people, of course.

That being said, I'm not sure these are the types of novels that work for me. I did really like Sayers's writing style, but unfortunately as far as the story was concerned, I really did not care who killed who or why (and the why explanation was kind of thin, anyway). Around the 25% mark I wanted Lord Peter to either solve the case and start a new one--because the novelty factor of this one was closing fast--or for something else to happen to move the story forward. Instead nothing happened and the book felt like it went on FOREVER, and it's a pretty short book. A short book that feels like it could give A Discovery of Witches a run for its money in page count, seriously.

Also, as much as I like Sayers's writing, there is A LOT of dialog going on in Whose Body? I found myself wondering why she didn't just write a play and call it a day. While I approve of lots of dialog, after a while I was just exhausted from being chattered at CONSTANTLY.

If I'd been able to read this book in one sitting, I think I probably would have enjoyed it more; but let's face it, that's not going to happen. And I consider myself reasonably capable of retaining information, but every time I picked up Whose Body? I had no idea what was going on. I would go back a few pages thinking I'd accidentally advanced in the book, only to realize I hadn't and I just totally forgot everything that happened. It was kind of like math class: I don't hate math, or even find it difficult, but I really don't consider it interesting at all. Ergo I would forget everything that happened in math class as soon as summer vacation started. My specific amnesia in regards to Whose Body? reminded me of that.

In short, I didn't care about any of these characters aside from Lord Peter; and while he was interesting there wasn't a whole lot of character development happening with him. I'm really not sure Sayers and I are reader-writer compatible at this point. But I'm willing to give her another shot.

Download Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers at Librivox|UPenn Library