Lord Peter : The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories Paperback – 1986
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I was pleasantly surprised. While the stories of course did not have the wealth of familiar characters all on stage at the same time, they each gave glimpses into those lives alongside the steady Lord Peter. From the disturbing to the merely amusing, Lord Peter managed to mix himself up in murder and mystery, and smoothly work out the muddle. One is also blessed to have two stories with Harriet Vane and the Wimsey children in them. The collection is fun and quite a vital part of the Lord Peter collection.
I find the 2 stories from Teeth uninteresting, but those from HH are enjoyable. The stories from _Lord Peter Views the Body_ all predate the events of _Strong Poison_ - that is, they occur years before Lord Peter met Harriet Vane. In fact, some occur within two years of the end of WWI, such as "The Vindictive Story of the Footsteps That Ran", set in June 1921. For the most part, most of my favorite Lord Peter short stories fall into this group, with the exception of "The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention", an enormous (and to me, tedious) novella wherein the will of a recently deceased old reprobate was deliberately designed to create bad blood between his sons. Apart from that, we have such gems as the Attenbury diamond case, mentioned in later years as having started Lord Peter on his hobby of detection, a case featuring Lord St. George as a child staying in the Piccadilly flat (and featuring the first appearance of Bill Rumm, who later appeared in _Strong Poison_). We even have "The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will", wherein Lady Mary persuades her brother to help a friend with Red politics find her uncle's missing will. (It's much more entertaining than Hercule Poirot's only foray into a case of this kind, and more sophisticated than Jane Marple's only such case - Uncle Meleager had a wicked sense of humor.)
Harriet Vane appears only in the last two stories, both from _Striding Folly_: "The Haunted Policeman" and "Talboys", neither involving murder and both set after the events of _Thrones, Dominations_.
In addition to the mysteries themselves, challenging little puzzles complete with the wry humor found in the novels, fans of the series are given little glimpses into the other stories. Various situations and names that will appear in other works pop up giving devotees of the series a treasure hunt for repeated reads.
This volume is comprehensive in reproducing all 21 Wimsey short stories, including the previously unpublished Talboys. Certainly there are some delightful stories among them. My favorite half-a-dozen or so stories include:
"The Unprincipled Affair of the Practical Joker" - Wimsey uses some sleight of hand to manipulate a game at cards, in order to blackmail a thief into returning stolen jewelry and a scandalous photograph.
"The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste" - On behalf of the government, Wimsey is commissioned to purchase a secret formula, but when two Lord Peters show up at the estate of the scientist concerned, Wimsey's skill in wine-tasting is necessary to uncover the imposter.
"The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba" - Wimsey infiltrates a criminal organization of thieves in order to bring to justice the mastermind behind the secret society.
"The Image in the Mirror" - Wimsey is consulted by a man who suspects he is mad, since either he or someone identical to him is committing atrocious crimes. A mysterious tale with a doppelganger motif!
"The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey" - Wimsey again plays magician, this time in a remote and primitive community, to rescue a woman from being mistreated by her vengeful husband.
"In the Teeth of Evidence" - A short and immensely satisfying tale where Wimsey unravels the peculiar events leading to the death of a dentist who apparently died after his car caught fire in his garage.
"Striding Folly" - Can Wimsey solve the mystery surrounding the death of Mellilow's neighbour and chess-partner, Creech, when Mellilow's alibi is an unconvincing story about a complete stranger who played chess with him that evening instead of with Creech?
If the taste of these stories leaves you begging for more, you might next want to read "The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers", "The Fantastic Horror of the Cat in the Bag", and "The Piscatorial Farce of the Stolen Stomach." The remaining stories are not as good, but might still prove rewarding and satisfying to the dedicated Wimsey fan. It has to be conceded that for those unfamiliar with Wimsey, it could take considerable effort to appreciate Wimsey-Lite, and given their brevity, many of these stories lack the complexity and satisfying twists of a typical Sayers murder mystery. But for Lord Peter Wimsey enthusiasts, the short stories of Wimsey-Lite are still thoroughly enjoyable! - GODLY GADFLY
Having said all this it is worth having as it collects all the short stories in one volume. If you like Dorothy Sayers you will like these not so short stories which include some fascinating plots.