Dorothy L. Sayers

Though Christie was unrivalled as a plot technician, it is arguably that Dorothy L. Sayers left a more important legacy to the genre. When the members of the Crime Writers’ Association voted for the best 1930’s novel, Sayer’s The Nine Tailors was the winner. Most of her books are traditional whodunnits in structure, but Sayers showed that detective stories could also be literate, intelligent novels. Her series hero, Lord Peter Wimsey, evolves from a silly ass with a wardrobe of mannerisms to a fully realised character. Four novels chart Wimsey’s stormy relationship with Harriet Vane an unconventional, Oxford-educated detective novelist. (Any resemblance to her creator is purely coincidental). Busman’s Honeymoon (1937) was Sayer’s last published detective novel. A fragment, Thrones, Dominations, describing the early married life of Lord and Lady Peter Wimsey, remained unpublished until 1988, when a sympathetic completion of the novel by Booker-shortlisted Jill Paton Walsh won widespread acclaim.

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