Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Lord Peter: Two Final Collections

In the Teeth of the Evidence / Dorothy L.Sayers
NY: Harper, 1993, c1939.
224 p.
In the Teeth of the Evidence is another strange little collection of stories. Only two Lord Peter stories, then five Montague Egg, and the remainder just standalone mystery stories. It's a good variety though, and some of the single stories are really funny as well -- The Inspiration of Mr. Budd in particular, in which a barber has a brilliant idea about how to make the criminal on the run who is currently in his shop much more identifiable. The Lord Peter stories are dark and a bit gory (ie: he identifies who the figure burned in his garage is), while the Montague Egg ones are similar to the last set -- someone on Goodreads compared him to Jessica Fletcher, which I think is a more apt comparison than any other I've seen -- people turn up dead around him, and he just happens to figure it out. 

Certainly a mixed set of stories that present differing atmospheres and themes, though all clearly by Sayers. Even her so-so stories can be better than many other writers. While this isn't my favourite of her books, there are still a couple of stories that I'd go back to reread. Worth exploring, anyhow!

Striding Folly / Dorothy L. Sayers
NY: Hodder Stoughton, 2017, c1972.
176 p.
And now for this sad collection, Striding Folly. It was published many years after the rest, seemingly collected from random bits laying around as Sayers was becoming popular again. And it shows. This is not one to seek out. 

It is made up of an essay on Sayers, some info about the character of Lord Peter himself, and then three short stories. The first only has Peter stepping in at the end to solve the mystery, rather deus ex machina. The second, The Haunted Policeman, is to me the only one worth reading, and even it is flawed. Lord Peter, after the birth of his second son, is up late and encounters a policeman doing his rounds who has seen something very mysterious on their street. Elements of misdirection and possible supernatural elements lift this one up to something readable. The final story, Talboys, set at the house where Peter and Harriet had their honeymoon, features their children and is dreary and sentimental. 

At some point, a story is exhausted, and authors should just stop writing. Once Peter and Harriet marry, the overarching story is done. Nothing after that is really interesting. Perhaps Sayers herself had lost interest by this point; in any case, this is one example of short stories in a mystery series that just don't work. You can easily skip this one. 

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