Lord Peter Wimsey is one of those characters that just sort of kept popping up in random places in my life. I think if you are at all into mystery novels you may have had a similar experience. For whatever reason, however, I never actually read one. So, when I hit a point where I didn’t have a book on deck I went to my handy library app and looked up the first one. I really loved it, but it was not at all what I expected.
First off, Lord Peter is really goofy and chatty. Dude is really funny. Imagine Sherlock Holmes, but with far less ego and a love of slang. He solves crimes because he’s rich and bored and kind of good at it and he fully admits that at every opportunity. He’s a WWI veteran who, because of his financial and minor noble status, doesn’t have a “real” job and probably never will. His Watson is his butler Bunter, who is very proper and formal and is also a one man CSI unit. I really like Bunter, he’s great. Charles Parker is Wimsey’s friend and contact with Scotland yard. The three of them more or less make up their own Crime Squad, with the occasional help from Wimsey’s mother.
The mystery comes in one morning when Lord Peter’s mother calls to tell him that the strangest things happened- the man who is fixing her parish church’s roof woke up this morning to find a dead man in his bathtub. He has no idea who the man is or how he got there. Well, Lord Peter just can’t resist checking out a situation that strange so he heads over to check it out.
On the surface it looks like the body belongs to a prominent Jewish businessman who has recently gone missing. As things, progress, however, the plot thickens and it becomes clear that there is far more to the situation than first appears. There are shady American businessmen, an out of town lawyer, a well respected doctor, and several other suspects in the mix.
The big thing that starts to potentially derail Lord Peter is sometimes his past really wants to come back to haunt him. Sayers does dip her toes into a bit of discussion about class and social issues in this book and I’m interested to see how she continues down this road in later books when she doesn’t have to spend as much time on introductions.
This first novel really is more of an introduction to the characters than anything else, but it is a fun, quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m looking forward to continuing with the series.