Unnatural Death: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery
The quotation for Unnatural Death cited below is an example of the wonderful light sarcasm and social satire of Dorothy Sayers. Her volume of essays Are Women Human? is an example of that approach. Sayers penned over twenty-five volumes, many of which are Lord Peter Wimsey stories. Lord Wimsey is her amateur detective who, aided by his man, Bunter, a detective friend and an otherwise unoccupied old lady, Miss Clemson, solves crimes that baffle the inept local police.
In Unnatural Death the murders appear to be quite natural, but with Miss Clemson undercover in the town and Wimsey investigating the remote possibility of murder, the truth is revealed. The Wimsey stories are delightful. Sayers considered her main character as a cross between Bertie Wooster and Fred Astaire. This particular story, however, is marred by racist and anti-Semitic language. Although such language is typical of the period, it is shocking and unnecessary – particularly since Sayers shows that the local police are all too ready to blame blacks and gangs for violence. Sayers, one of the first women to graduate from Oxford, was a Christian humanist and also translator of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Very enjoyable light reading if one can get past the jarring epithets.
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