Whose Body? by Dorothy L Sayers (1923)

I needed something to listen to as I combed redcurrants from their stalks last week, so I picked a Lord Peter Wimsey adaptation (with Ian Carmichael – perfect!) from Radio 4 Extra. I was hooked.

So I read the first Wimsey book on the train from Amsterdam to Minden yesterday. He’s a cross between Bertie Wooster and Sherlock Holmes, and it all makes for an entertaining (if really rather grisly) detective story with fascinating glimpses of the norms of its time. Wimsey still suffers from shell shock, London fogs haven’t changed since Dickens’s description of them, and sensitive readers must brace themselves for some snobbery.

There was also a wonderful glimpse of Parker in the foreword. She loads Wimsey with riches and the best of everything. At the time of writing this story, she said, she was “particularly hard up and it gave me great pleasure to spend his fortune for him. When I was dissatisfied with my single unfurnished room I took a luxurious flat for him in Piccadilly . . . I can heartily recommend this inexpensive way of furnishing to all who are discontented with their incomes”.

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