Saturday, 7 April 2012

Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers

This was my first Dorothy L. Sayers, and for the first third of the book I thought it might well be my last.    Lord Peter Wimsey's daffy monologues irritated rather than charmed, the archness of the narrative annoyed me, the little self-referential footnotes got on my nerves.  But as I reached the middle section of the book it started to hook me in.  The novel - and the characters - seemed to genuinely care about the unfortunate murder victims; the narrative suddenly fleshed out Lord Peter, his valet Bunter, and the senior policeman Parker, giving them three-dimensional characters instead of vaguely throwing literary stereotypes onto the page; the atmosphere of 1920s London became breathable.  I also came to enjoy Sayers's style: the scene where a woman must try to identify her husband after he has been fairly thoroughly dissected in an anatomy lab, told almost entirely through dialogue, was particularly powerful.

The plotting is not terribly sophisticated, and it is fairly obvious from the early stages who the murderer is; the tension is built in the race to prove his guilt before he realises that discovery is imminent.  Sayers is very good at showing how many people are touched by the effects of a crime, how its impact radiates out through many layers of society.  I finished this book looking forward to reading the next one in the series.

This was also the first book I'd read on an e-reader.  A Kobo has come into my possession, and as yet I'm not entirely sure about it, although it is hugely convenient for travelling.  I missed the sensation of holding the book in my hands, and the Kobo didn't turn the pages quickly enough for my liking.  If you have (or acquire) an e-reader I highly recommend Girlebooks, who have a lovely range of women's writing, much of it free, in various e-book formats.