You know how Picasso had a Blue Period? June could be called my "Post-WWI era English Mystery Period". It's purely coincidental, but last month I read mysteries from three different authors that all happen to take place in England in the 1920's. I was recently introduced to Dorothy L. Sayers and her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Unlike the two contemporary authors I've been reading, Sayers actually lived and wrote during the early part of the 20th century, which imbues her stories with the genuine flavor of the time. And oh, what a fun romp they have been!
Lord Peter Wimsey is an aristocrat who loves to dabble in amateur detective work for fun. He enjoys his shallow aristocratic comforts, but these vanities disguise a deep intellect, keen powers of observation, and kind heart. His good humor and quick wit are delightful and even the most gruesome tales are full of a lighthearted sense of humor underscoring the macabre. Unlike other mysteries of the time featuring amateur detectives, Wimsey is mostly respected by Scotland Yard and is best friends with Chief Inspector Charles Parker.
Whose Body? is Sayers' first Lord Peter Wimsey novel, and details his first attempt at solving a murder mystery. When an unidentified man is found dead in someone else's bathtub, wearing nothing except a pair of expensive pince-nez, questions immediately arise about whether this could be Sir Reuben Levy -- a successful financier who disappeared the night before. Based on the evidence, Lord Peter immediately disregards the police's theory, but he is intrigued enough to investigate both the murder and the disappearance. Much of the novel focuses on unfolding the mystery, of course. But there is a lot of attention paid to developing Wimsey's singular personality, which makes it far more enjoyable than other mysteries of the same era.