by Dorothy L. Sayers
I’ve found most of Sayer’s work very hard to acquire second hand. This book & The Nine Tailors turned up at a book fair, so I snapped them up!
I’ve only read a little of James Sandoe’s introduction, as it moved into spoiler territory quite quickly for me – I haven’t read all of Sayer’s novels.
I’ve read the first four stories so far & enjoyed all of them, but I have decided just to write reviews for the ones that were 5★ or 4.5★ reads for me.
The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager’s Will Meleager – what a name! This story was everything I hope for from a Sayer – engaging characters, witty dialogue & a baffling mystery. A bonus was the new fangled thing called a crossword! I’m going to have another attempt at solving it, later on. 5★ Such an outstanding story that I don’t know if any of the others will be able to top it!
The Vindictive Story of the Footsteps that Ran Can I say I’m really loving the titles? This was really ingenious & I loved the byplay between Wimsey & his butler, Bunter. 4.5★
The Bibulous Nature of a Matter of Taste This was funny & silly & I really enjoyed it. 5★
The Learned Adventure of the Dragon’s Head What a wonderful Boys Own Adventure! I can’t get over the witty charm of this one. 5★
The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey With strong echoes of Poe & Conan Doyle, this was melodramatic, OTT & I absolutely loved it. Took a writer of skill to pull this one off! 5★
In the Teeth of the Evidence Very witty title – & a very witty story. Dastardly dentistry. 5★
The Haunted Policeman This one didn’t make much sense to me – but it is so wonderfully witty at the start that I’m going to give it 4.5★ anyway!
Talboys What does this title mean? (seriously, someone please tell me!) More a study of family life (& very funny) & Sayers gets a couple of good shots in at an opiniated busybody. 5★
So there you have it. Sayers is my favourite Golden Age writer. La Christie has far more ingenious plots, but I think Sayers is a writer’s writer. If I could write a hundredth as well as her, I would be one happy woman.
I would love to give this collection 5★because some of it was sublime, but unfortunately (as is usual in short story collections) there was one real turkey in The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba. No book that contains this ridiculousness can possibly get a 5★. Christie & Patricia Wentworth also didn’t do well with these secret society stories & I had to give this story 2★. It will indeed be a miracle if I can ever give a short story collection 5★ (unless it is written by Katherine Mansfield.)
The afterword by John Curran is illuminating. If I reread the whole collection, I will read it in tandem with this afterword.
But while I’m getting rid of most of my books, this one is a keeper which I’m sure I’ll read again & again.