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Archive for the ‘1920s-1930s’ Category

Copyright: 2002

Running Time: 2h, 20min (2 CDs)

Setting/Type: 1920s – 1930s/Mystery

Series: Lord Peter Wimsey #1

Producer: BBC Radio 4

Author Website: www.sayers.org.uk (website of the Dorothy L Sayers Society; the design’s a wee bit weak, don’t cha think?)

Grade: B

Ian Carmichael is Lord Peter Wimsey, with Patricia Routledge as his mother, in this BBC radio 4 full-cast dramatisation. Dorothy L. Sayers’ first Lord Peter Wimsey tale introduces many of the author’s best-known characters. Wimsey’s mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, rings her son with news of ‘such a quaint thing’. She has heard through a friend that Mr Thipps, a respectable Battersea architect, found a dead man in his bath – wearing nothing but a gold prince-nez. Lord Wimsey makes his way straight over to Mr Thipps, and a good look at the body raises a number of interesting questions. Why would such an apparantly well-groomed man have filthy black toenails, flea bites and the scent of carbolic soap lingering on his corpse? Then comes the disappearance of oil millionaire Sir Reuben Levy, last seen on the Battersea Park Road. With his beard shaved he would look very similar to the man found in the bath – but is Sir Levy really dead?

Many thanks to Rosario’s Top 100 Ballot without I would have never discovered Dorothy L Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey series. In 2002 BBC Radio 4 adapted Sayers novels into full-cast radio dramas and brought them out as affordable audio CDs. When I browsed the Glasgow libraries for editions of Sayers’s work I stumbled upon those plays and decided to give them a try.

When I first heard the voices of Lord Peter Wimsey and his butler Banter I nearly sprayed my morning coffee all over my fellow train rider sitting just opposite of me. Wonderful, simply wonderful. Lord Peter sounds like a more “Oxford English” version of Pierce Brosnan (and I love that actor) and Banter is so stiff and posh you really need to check if there’s a stick hidden in his bottom. But the crème de la crème of the cast is Lord Peter’s mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver. Nobody, but nobody can say “Oh, dear” in quite such a voice and pronunciation as she. If for nothing else, the voices alone really made my day.

But not to be left out, the mystery of the story was pretty convincing too. I am kind of an old-fashioned girl when it comes to anything remotely connected with murder. Growing up with countless times of reading (and re-reading) Agatha Christie novels, I favor murders without too much blood and gruel and nasty details involved. And I would like to have a strong motive, not just a jealous lover or a freaked-out killer … well, maybe with the exception of Karen Rose, this woman is just too good.

And all this Sayers delivered. A naked corps in the bathroom of a well-established architect (quite shoking considering the story plays in the 1920s) and NO flash pointing in the direction of the culprit. Several possible murders are established, well combined with lots of clues and brain storming on Lord Peter’s side.

All in all, it was a perfect story that accompagnied me on my way to work, was with me while I spent some money for a new winter coat (it only cost 30 pounds and I simply couldn’t resist) and finally delivered a satisfying ending when I took the train back home. :-)

#2 in the series, I cooooooooooooooome!

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