Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)
ph_0111207114-Sayers.jpg Dorothy L. Sayers. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Dorothy L. Sayers never considered her detective novels and short stories to be truly serious literature, and once Lord Peter Wimsey had provided a substantial income for her, she turned her attention to religious drama, theology, and a translation of Dante’s La divina commedia (c. 1320; The Divine Comedy, 1802). Yet she wrote these popular works with the same thoroughness, commitment to quality, and attention to detail that infuse her more scholarly writings. Her mystery novels set a high standard for writers who followed her—and there have been many. Her plots are carefully constructed, and she was willing to spend months, even years, in researching background details. What gives her works their lasting appeal, however, is not the nature of the crimes or the cleverness of their solutions. Readers return to the novels for the pleasure of savoring Sayers’s wit, her literary allusions, the rich settings, the deftly developed characters, and, above all, her multitalented aristocratic sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey. Blending the conventions of detective fiction with social satire and unobtrusively interweaving serious themes, she fulfilled her goal of making the detective story “once more a novel of manners instead of a pure crossword puzzle.”