Another delightful re-read of another Peter Wimsey mystery. This time, our lordly sleuth doesn’t even have a case. He overhears a young doctor in a restaurant, talking about his suspicions in the recent death of one of his patients. The lady was elderly and suffered from cancer. She was dying anyway, and even the autopsy the doctor had insisted on didn’t reveal anything criminal. The death was ruled natural, but the doctor was unsatisfied. He considered it unnatural and untimely – in his opinion, the old lady could’ve lived another several months.
Wimsey, with his curiosity stirred, started to investigate, even though the doctor specifically asked him not to. As always, Wimsey’s investigation rolls like an avalanche, collecting evidence, disregarding anyone’s convenience, and prodding the terrified murderer into a deeper abyss of more killing. The bodies pile up across England, while Wimsey relentlessly pursues his craving for justice and his irresistible need to solve puzzles.
I can’t talk much about the hero here. His personality develops across all the novels about him. One novel only shows a glimpse of him, a single facet of the diamond, so to speak, but I must admit that the more I read about Peter Wimsey the more I like the guy. He has flaws, yes. His incessant prattle off the subject sometimes gets on my nerves. He flaunts his erudition and his upper class education as a red flag in front of all of us, simple proles, but his profound need for truth and justice resonates inside me. I wish more people were like Wimsey.
His sense of humor is catching too. Of course, at least one quote is inevitable in a book review about Peter Wimsey. Here he is talking to his friend, a police officer Parker, Wimsey’s sidekick in all his investigations:
‘...Was it Voltaire who said that the English had three hundred and sixty-five religions and only one sauce?’
‘Judging from the War Tribunals,’ said Parker, ‘I should say that was an understatement. And then there’s America – a country, I understand, remarkably well supplied with religions.’
It was written in 1927, remember. A thoroughly enjoyable read.