Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lord Peter : the end

Weeks ago when I was sick I started reading or rather re-reading Dorothy L. Sayers' crime fiction. I quickly romped through the books which are all held in Boroondara's collection and then with some misplaced reluctance turned to the Jill Paton Walsh novels about Lord Peter Wimsey.

Novels past, I was left only with short stories and today I finally finished the last volume of her short stories: Lord Peter: the complete Lord Peter Wimsey stories. I have really struggled to complete this volume as short stories are simply not my favourite type of writing. I know they can be beautiful gems of construction but I really prefer the development of plot and character to be found in a longer work.

This volume is a compendium of all DLS's Peter Wimsey stories and some of them I reread recently in other collections such as Striding folly and In the teeth of the evidence. Don't get me wrong, some of these stories are very clever pieces of detection and there are passages that I love. One such is the scene in "The learned adventure of the Dragon's Head" where nephew Lord St George is visiting and purchases a secondhand book that turns out to provide an interesting mystery. How about this for writing?

"Yes, Uncle Peter," said the viscount dutifully. He was extended on his stomach on the library hearthrug, laboriously picking his way through the more exciting-looking bits of the Cosmographia, with the aid of Messrs. Lewis and Short, whose monumental compilation he had hitherto looked upon as a barbarous invention for the annoyance of upper forms.

These short stories contain lots of little gems that are reminiscent of her full-blown novels. I am very glad I have read them again but so wish there were more novels. Short stories are not the same.

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