I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
In this delightful collection of Wimsey exploits, Dorothy L. Sayers reveals a gruesome, grotesque but absolutely bewitching side rarely shown in Lord Peter's full-length adventures.
Lord Peter views the body in 12 tantalizing and bizarre ways in this outstanding collection. He deals with such marvels as the man with copper fingers, Uncle Meleager's missing will, the cat in the bag, the footsteps that ran, the stolen stomach, the man without a face...and with such clues as cyanide, jewels, a roast chicken and a classic crossword puzzle.
I hadn’t realized that this was a book of short stories, but I enjoyed being able to read a little bit, put it down to do something else, and return when I was done, not having to worry that I’d forget some crucial detail in the meanwhile. I also enjoyed the vast range of subjects that Peter Wimsey displayed his knowledge in—as disparate as poker, wine appreciation, jewels, and crossword puzzles. Obviously Sayers had wide ranging interests and was able to indulge them through Lord Peter.
I’m also enjoying Peter Wimsey’s evolution over the course of these books—he started out a bit dim, rather like Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster, but he has gradually become much more like an Agatha Christie protagonist or Conan Doyle’s Holmes, being able to put the puzzle pieces together faster than the average person, when the picture is still a bit hazy. Obvious when he points it out, but he’s the first to see the whole picture.
There’s a reason why Sayers, Christie, and Conan Doyle retain their popularity in the 21st century. They give us memorable characters and create mysterious crimes for them to solve. We still enjoy a good puzzle, no matter what time period is chosen for the story.