Author: Dorothy L. Sayers, 1934.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Golden Age Detective.
Other Details: ebook. 422 pages.
When his sexton finds a corpse in the wrong grave, the rector of Fenchurch St Paul asks Lord Peter Wimsey to find out who the dead man was and how he came to be there. The lore of bell-ringing and a brilliantly-evoked village in the remote fens of East Anglia are the unforgettable background to a story of an old unsolved crime and its violent unravelling twenty years later. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
The novel opens with Lord Peter Wimsey having a minor car accident on his way to celebrate the New Year. While his car is recovered and mended he and his valet, Bunter, are welcomed into the home of the local Rector. Given he has some experience with bell-ringing, Lord Peter is recruited as a substitute for a ill parishioner to take part in a nine-hour New Year's Eve bell-ringing. He and Bunter continue on their way a day or so later. However, when the corpse mentioned above is discovered a few months later, Lord Peter is asked to assist in uncovering the mystery alongside the local police.
This is the first Lord Peter Wimsey novel that I have read though I was aware of the reputation of Dorothy L. Sayers and this series. It was selected by one of my reading groups as we wished to compare an example of the Golden Age of Detectives with two examples of modern detective fiction.
I certainly found it very enjoyable with plenty of twists before the mystery was solved. I did feel that given this was one of the later novels in the series that the character of Lord Peter was very well developed and while this works as a stand alone, I wished we had selected one of the earlier ones for that development. I may well read the early ones as they are available on Kindle. Unconventional and quite compelling, I can see why these novels have proved so popular over the years and remain highly readable 80 years on.
As a couple of group members were still reading we could not discuss 'whodunit' but did discuss other aspects such as Sayers attention to detail and her excellent sense of place in her depiction of the East Anglia Fens and the lore of bell-ringing throughout the pages.