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Interested in some (really) not recent, but classic, detective stories?
What is the Lord Peter Wimsey series about?
Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey is the main protagonist in a series of detective novels and short stories written by English crime writer Dorothy L. Sayers (and later—since 1998—by Jill Paton Walsh).
A dilettante who solves mysteries for his own amusement, Lord Peter Wimsey is a gentleman detective who is often assisted by his valet, Mervyn Bunter, his good friend, police detective Charles Parker, and also occasionally by mystery writer Harriet Vane.
The Lord Peter Wimsey series was adapted for television for the BBC. The character was played by Harold Warrender in 1947, Ian Carmichael in 1972 and 1975, Edward Petherbridge in 1987. Actor Peter Haddon played Lord Peter in the British film The Silent Passenger in 1935, and Robert Montgomery took on the role for the 1940 film Busman’s Honeymoon. The series was also adapted for radio.
How to read the Lord Peter Wimsey Books in Order?
I. Lord Peter Wimsey Books by Dorothy L. Sayers
- Whose Body? – There’s a corpse in the bathtub, wearing nothing but a pair of pince-nez spectacles. Urged to investigate by his mother, the Dowager Duchess of Denver, Lord Peter Wimsey quickly ascertains that the sudden disappearance of a well-known financier is in some way connected to the body in the bathroom. But discovering exactly which way they’re related leads the amateur detective on a merry chase.
- Clouds of Witness – The fiancé of Lord Peter Wimsey’s sister, Mary, is found dead outside the conservatory of the Wimsey family’s shooting lodge in Yorkshire. The evidence points to their older brother, Gerald, who is charged with the murder and put on trial in the House of Lords. To clear the family name, Lord Peter and Inspector Charles Parker scour the lodge’s grounds, finding several tantalizing clues, including mysterious footprints, a piece of jewelry, and a cat charm.
- Unnatural Death – The wealthy old woman died much sooner than the doctor expected. Did she suddenly succumb to illness—or was it murder? Lord Peter Wimsey begins to investigate, with the help of his trusted manservant, Bunter, and Miss Alexandra Katherine Climpson, a gossipy spinster with a gift for asking the right questions. The intricate trail leads from a beautiful Hampshire village to a fashionable London flat, where a deliberate test of amour will expose the elusive truth once and for all.
- The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club – On November 11, ninety-year-old General Fentiman is found dead in an armchair at the Bellona Club. No one knows exactly when his death occurred—information essential in determining the recipient of a substantial inheritance. But that is only one of the mysteries vexing Lord Peter Wimsey.
- Strong Poison – Lord Peter Wimsey comes to the trial of Harriet Vane for a glimpse at one of the most engaging murder cases London has seen in years. Unfortunately for the detective, the crime’s details are distractingly salacious, and there is little doubt that the woman will be found guilty. A slightly popular mystery novelist, she stands accused of poisoning her fiancé. But as Lord Peter watches Harriet in the dock, he begins to doubt her guilt—and to fall in love.
- The Five Red Herrings – In the scenic Scottish village of Kirkcudbright, no one is disliked more than Sandy Campbell. When the painter is found dead at the foot of cliff, his easel standing above, no one is sorry to see him gone—especially six members of the close-knit Galloway artists’ colony. Lord Peter Wimsey is on the scene to determine the truth about Campbell’s death.
- Have His Carcase – Harriet’s discovery of a murdered body on the beach before it is swept out to sea unites her once more with the indomitable Lord Peter Wimsey, as together they attempt to solve a most lethal mystery, and find themselves become much closer than mere sleuthing partners in the process.
- Murder Must Advertise -When executive Victor Dean dies from a fall down the iron staircase at Pym’s Publicity, a posh London ad agency, Lord Peter Wimsey goes undercover to investigate. Posing as a new copywriter, Wimsey discovers that Dean was part of an unsavory crowd at Pym’s whose recreational habits link them to the criminal underworld.
- The Nine Tailors – When his sexton finds a disfigured corpse in the wrong grave, the rector of Fenchurch St Paul asks Lord Peter Wimsey to find out who the dead man was and how he came to be there.
- Gaudy Night – When Harriet Vane attends her Oxford reunion, known as the Gaudy, the prim academic setting is haunted by a rash of bizarre pranks. And Harriet finds herself ensnared in a nightmare of romance and terror, with only the tiniest shreds of clues to challenge her powers of detection, and those of her paramour, Lord Peter Wimsey.
- Busman’s Honeymoon – Society’s eligible women are in mourning. Lord Peter Wimsey has married at last, having finally succeeded in his ardent pursuit of the lovely mystery novelist Harriet Vane. The two depart for a tranquil honeymoon in a country farmhouse but find, instead of a well-prepared love nest, the place left in a shambles by the previous owner. His sudden appearance, dead from a broken skull in the cellar, only prompts more questions.
- Lord Peter – First published in 1972, this book collects all of the Lord Peter Wimsey stories. From “The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag” to “The Image in the Mirror” and “Talboys.” If you want to read them in order, among the books, you can find a chronology here.
II. Lord Peter Wimsey Books & Harriet Vane by Jill Paton Walsh
- Thrones, Dominations – Based on an unfinished Sayers manuscript, completed by Jill Paton Walsh. It is 1936 and Lord Peter Wimsey has returned from his honeymoon to set up home with his cherished new wife, the novelist Harriet Vane. As they become part of fashionable London society they encounter the glamorous socialite Rosamund Harwell and her wealthy impressario husband Laurence. Unlike the Wimseys, they are not in love – and all too soon, one of them is dead.
- A Presumption of Death – 1940. Harriet Vane has taken her children to safety in the country. But the war has followed them. Then the village’s first air raid practise ends with a very real body on the ground – not a war casualty but a case of plain, old-fashioned murder. And even before the second body is found, Lord Peter Wimsey and his brilliant wife are on their way to finding the killer.
- The Attenbury Emeralds – It was 1921 when Lord Peter Wimsey first encountered the Attenbury emeralds. The recovery of the magnificent gem – Lord Attenbury’s most dazzling heirloom – made headlines and launched a shell-shocked young aristocrat on his career as a detective. Now it is 1951: The new young Lord Attenbury – grandson of Lord Peter’s first client – seeks his help again, this time to prove who owns the gigantic emerald that Wimsey last saw in 1921.
- The Late Scholar -When the fellows at an Oxford college appeal to Peter Wimsey to resolve a dispute, he and Harriet are happy to oblige. The dispute between the two passionate parties is evenly balanced, that is, until several of the fellows unexpectedly die. And the causes of death bear an uncanny resemblance to the murder methods in Peter’s past cases – methods that Harriet has used in her novels…
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