If you like "Jeeves and Wooster," you will enjoy the adventures of Lord Peter Wimsey and his
manservant, Bunter. Sayers and Wodehouse were contemporaries and both mocked British aristocracy with their stories based on these characters. As I was
reading, I could imagine Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry playing the parts in a series. Wimsey and Bunter have the same type of relationship as Bertie Wooster
and his man Jeeves, but there are also major differences. Unlike the clueless Wooster, Wimsey is quite smart. His hobby is collecting rare and unbelievably
expensive books, such as editions of Dante; (Sayers was a medieval scholar and is known for her translations of that poet.) His other hobby is investigating
crime, most often murder. His mother's position, plus his friendship with Scotland Yard detective Parker gain him admission to crime scenes.
This is the first of the Lord Peter stories, published in 1923. He is on his way to an auction of rare books when he realizes he has forgotten his catalogue. As he arrives home, Bunter has just answered the phone. Lord Peter's mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, is calling because the architect who is working on the church roof, Mr. Thipps, has just found a dead body in his bathtub, wearing nothing but a pair of pince-nez.
Lord Peter decides to send Bunter to the auction, and goes to investigate the murder before the real police show up. He makes his observations and is ready to leave just as the incompetent Inspector Sugg arrives.
Meanwhile, his good friend Parker tells him of a crime he is investigating: the disappearance of a wealthy Jewish financier, Sir Reuben Levy. Though, technically, there is no connection between the two crimes, not only Sir Peter and Parker, but also Sugg do make a connection. Sugg contacts Levy's wife, who is away for a rest, and also makes an unreasonable arrest of both Thipps and the housemaid, leaving Thipps' elderly and mostly deaf mother alone. She has never used the phone before, but manages to call Sir Peter, who whisks her off to stay with his own mother, the Dowager Duchess.
The body in the tub is not Levy, though the murderer has tried to create a resemblance. But Levy is still missing. And how and why did the body get in Thipps' bathtub? And why was it wearing only a pair of pince-nez? In a bold move, Lord Peter places an ad for the owner of the glasses. It is promptly answered by an attorney, Mr. Crimplesham, His letter claims he lost them on the railway, and he has included his prescription. The glasses are sent to Scotland Yard to be tested, and the prescription matches. Not knowing what to make of it, Sir Peter takes a trip to see Crimplesham, while Parker attends the murder hearing. Crimplesham turns out to be in his eighties, and really did lose the pince-nez by accident. Thipps and his housemaid are released from jail, no longer being charged with any crime.
The murderer is crafty, no doubt, but two unexpected events have occurred which could invariably trace him to the crimes. Little by little, Lord Peter searches his memory for something, a tidbit that he knows is there, but is unable to recall.
This is really a clever novel, not too deep, and filled with humor; truly entertaining reading. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and plan to read other "Lord Peter" mysteries by Sayers.
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