Striding Folly by Dorothy L. Sayers

The Blurb On The Back:

Lord Peter Wimsey’s last three baffling cases all demonstrate his unique detection skills at their most spectacular.

The enigma of a house numbered thirteen in a street of even numbers; an indignant child accused of theft, a dream about a game of chess that uncovers the true story behind a violent death.  Each of the stories introduces a different side of the twentieth century’s most ingenious detective hero. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

This collection of the last three Wimsey short stories written by Dorothy L Sayers together with an introduction by Elizabeth George and a fabulous, informative and insightful essay on the relationship between Sayers and her creation by Janet Hitchman is a must for Wimsey completists (and especially the Wimsey/Vane shippers) but the casual racism, anti-semitism and defence of corporal punishment is very much of its time and did affect my enjoyment.

LORD PETER WIMSEY AND HIS CREATOR by Janet Hitchman is a fascinating essay about Sayers’ life and the creation of her most famous detective, which I found informative and entertaining (especially the point about her husband having been .

STRIDING FOLLY is an unusual Wimsey story in that he doesn’t really appear until the final quarter – instead the focus is on Mr Mellilow who has a strange and disturbing dream about his neighbour (and chess partner) Mr Creech, who is later found murdered.  The dream element reminded me a little of Vertigo (surreal and creepy) but there’s a very uncomfortable depiction of a Jewish man in the piece that’s straight out of an anti-semitic handbook and which I really did not enjoy.

THE HAUNTED POLICEMAN sees Wimsey badly in need of a distraction as Harriett gives birth to their first son so when he comes across a policeman who’s convinced he saw a crime scene in number 13 Merriman’s End, only to discover that there’s no such address.  I really enjoyed the depiction of Wimsey in this – scared for Harriett (who makes a brief cameo), scared about becoming a father and happy to have something to investigate.  There’s a neat ending to this but there’s also some shockingly casual use of the ‘n’ word, which reminds you that this is very much of its time.

TALBOYS sees Wimsey, Harriett and their three sons living in the country where his eldest son, Bredon, confesses to stealing two peaches from Mr Puffett’s orchard.  So when Mr Puffett later reports that someone has stolen all of his peaches – right before the local Flower Show – Bredon seems to be the obvious culprit, only he says he didn’t do it and so Wimsey must deduce who did.  This was my favourite story in the piece – mainly because Harriett has a bigger role and it’s lovely to read of the happy Wimsey family life – but Sayers had decided views on child discipline (which she explores through Harriett’s tedious visitor, Miss Quirk, whose own gentler views on child rearing are ridiculed), which are a little difficult to read.

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