Dorothy L Sayers

Dorothy L Sayers is generally considered one of the four great Queens of Crime fiction alongside Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh and, of course, Agatha Christie. She is primarily known for her mysteries featuring aristocratic sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey and, later, Harriet Vane though she also wrote a series of short stories featuring a wine salesman sleuth, Montague Egg.

In addition to her own crime fiction, Sayers played a key role in setting up and being an early president of the Detection Club.

The Lord Peter stories were among my earliest introductions to crime fiction though it has been many years since I last read them. One of my goals since starting this blog is to reread the series in order, experiencing the character as he develops and to see how Sayers’ approach changed.

Lord Peter Wimsey

Whose Body (1923)

Lord Peter #1

Lord Peter investigates an unidentified body that has been found in a bathtub. The inhabitants of the house claim the man is unknown to him so who is he and what was he doing there?

…a very slight and rather routine mystery.

Read my review here

Clouds of Witness (1926)

Lord Peter #2

Lord Peter returns from travelling in Sicily to find his brother is under arrest for the murder of his sister’s fiancé.

For all of its faults, Clouds of Witness is a more entertaining and interesting work than its predecessor.

Read my review here

Unnatural Death (1927)

Lord Peter #3

Lord Peter investigates a doctor’s suggestion that a woman was involved in the death of her elderly aunt.

A marked improvement on its two predecessors, this novel makes Lord Peter a more relatable and human figure and features an interesting case.

Read my review here

Lord Peter Views the Body (1928)

Lord Peter #4

A collection of short stories, many of which incorporate whimsical elements.

A disappointing collection that focuses on the whimsical at the expense of detection.

Read my review here

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)

Lord Peter #5

An elderly general is found dead in an armchair in his club on Armistace Day, the same day his wealthy sister dies. Under the terms of his sister’s will, her fortune would either pass to his heirs or her companion depending on the order in which they died. Unfortunately there seems to be no witness to the general’s death. Lord Peter is asked to investigate the matter.

One of my favorite Sayers titles. This is a cleverly structured mystery with some powerful discussion about the effects the Great War was still having on those who had served a decade later.

Read my review here

Strong Poison (1930)

Lord Peter #6

A mystery novelist is on trial for the murder of her former lover, a writer with radical views.

This successfully introduced some elements that would benefit later stories. Unfortunately the case feels padded, unremarkable and overrated.

Read my review here

The Five Red Herrings (1931)

Lord Peter #7

A troublesome painter is found dead in a stream, a short distance from a half-finished canvas.

The core ideas of the mystery are interesting but I found the telling of it tedious and drawn out.

Read my review here

Have His Carcase (1932)

Lord Peter #8

Harriet Vane is hiking and discovers a corpse with its throat slit. The only footprints in the sand belong to her and the victim.

I have not reviewed this title yet on the blog.

Hangman’s Holiday (1933)

Lord Peter #9

A collection of short stories featuring both Lord Peter and Montague Egg.

I have not reviewed this title yet on the blog.

Murder Must Advertise (1933)

Lord Peter #10

A junior copywriter arrives at an advertising firm where his predecessor died in a fall down an iron staircase. In his new desk he discovers a note suggesting something has been going on in the office.

I have not reviewed this title yet on the blog.

The Nine Tailors (1934)

Lord Peter #11

Stranded in a village at New Year’s, Lord Peter learns about the theft of a necklace twenty years earlier.

I have not reviewed this title yet on the blog.

Gaudy Night (1935)

Lord Peter #12

Harriet Vane learns about a string of poison pen letters being sent to members of the faculty at the Oxford college she had attended.

I have not reviewed this title yet on the blog.

Busman’s Honeymoon (1937)

Lord Peter #13

Lord Peter and Harriet marry and travel to an old farmhouse in Hertfordshire he has bought her as a present. When they arrive they find the corpse of the seller in the cellar.

I have not reviewed this title yet on the blog.

In the Teeth of the Evidence (1939)

Lord Peter #14

A collection of short stories featuring Lord Peter and Montague Egg.

I have not reviewed this title yet on the blog.

Striding Folly (1972)

Contains an essay on Lord Peter and Sayers as well as three short stories.

I have not reviewed this title yet on the blog.


The Documents in the Case (1930) – written with Robert Eustace

Author portrait in header image by Howard Coster. © National Portrait Gallery, London. Used under Creative Commons 3.0 licence. This photograph was slightly cropped.