Tag Archives: dorothy sayers

Whose Body? This Body

The body which lay in the bath was that of a tall, stout man of about fifty. The hair, which was thick and black and naturally curly, had been cut and parted by a master hand, and exuded a faint violet perfume, perfectly recognisable in the close air of the bathroom. The features were thick, fleshy and strongly marked, with prominent dark eyes, and a long nose curving down to a heavy chin. The clean-shaven lips were full and sensual, and the dropped jaw showed teeth stained with tobacco. (8).

Sayers, D. (2009). Whose body?. (p. 8). Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, INC.


Notes: Through describing the dead man in the bathtub, the reader can see that this story will be a detective story with a who-done-it story line. Through this description of the killed man, the reader  sees and understands what this man looks like because Sayers paints a very clear picture.

If this were a detective story…

“Of course, if this was a detective story, there’d have been a convenient shower exactly an hour before the crime and a beautiful set of marks which could only have come there between two and three in the morning, but this being real life in a London November, you might well as expect footprints in Niagra” Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? New York: Dover Publications Inc., 2009. Page 29.
“It’s only in Sherlock Holmes and stories like that,that people think things out logically” (82).

In several instances Sayers makes a point of commenting on the formula of detectives stories and how simply cases are solved, how clues fall in the detective’s lap, making it very easy to solve a case. Yet Sayers uses several of those detective story formulas herself. There is the rich and emotionally troubled man who solves crimes for fun. He has a foil and an aid in his butler. There is a bumbling inspector who dislikes the interference of an amateur in his cases.

I have to say that I enjoy Lord Peter’s sarcastic and droll wit. I especially like his comment to Mrs. Appledore: “Otherwise you might be findin’ your Christian feelin’s gettin’ the better of you some fine day, and there’s nothin’ like Christian feelin’s for upsettin’ a man’s domestic comfort”(25). This dig at Mrs. Appledore points out her hypocrisy and perhaps the hypocrisy of Christianity which is interesting considering there are prejudicial comments from characters about the Jewish faith.

Nonsensical detective stories

“Then making the noise usually written ‘Tut-tut’…” (8)

Notes: Sayers writing about her own language, hypersensitivity & close attention to sounds, forces reader to become aware of these details

“‘Look here, Wimsey—you’ve been reading detective stories; you’re talking nonsense” (20).

Notes: draws attention to genre, is this story we’re reading ‘detective’? What makes it so? Characteristics? Rejects/downplays ‘detective’ genre as serious (“nonsense”), meta level of addressing own work

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? New York: Dover, 2009.