Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893 - 1957) wrote 20 short stories1 and 11 novels (plus one further unfinished novel) featuring one of the finest detectives ever created. One of the particular joys of the books is the manner in which the characters are developed throughout the series. They also present a portrait of the English upper classes between the World Wars, bringing its atmosphere to life and preserving a snapshot of a bygone age. Sayers' keen sense of observation presents the reader with a rich level of detail which is much more involving than a straightforward history can achieve.
Some of the books can be a little difficult to read - Sayers was a very intelligent woman who liked to show off. Several of them are peppered with quotes from obscure poets and phrases in Latin and French. Don't let the occasional obscurity prevent you reading2 this wonderful series of books. They are definite classics of 'Golden Age' detective fiction.
The Main Characters
Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey is the younger brother of the 16th Duke of Denver. Independently wealthy, when we first meet him he lives in a bachelor flat at 110a Piccadilly, London, attended by his faithful manservant - the invaluable (and imperturbable) Bunter. His main interests are collecting rare books and manuscripts, music and criminology. He is an expert on matters of food (especially wine) and male fashion and loves to drive at speed in the latest of a succession of Daimler cars all named 'Mrs. Merdle' after a character in Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens.
In appearance, he is short and slim with a long face, large nose and fair hair. Presenting the image of a 'Bertie Wooster' type of idle man-about-town, he is in fact extremely intelligent, with a first class honours degree (in Modern History) from Balliol College, Oxford3.
Bunter: Peter's invaluable manservant, whom he met when he served with him in the war. Bunter is a man of at least as many talents as Lord Peter, photography in particular being almost an obsession. He is also extremely useful for gaining information from the domestic servants of suspects.