Length: 6 hr, 31 min
Readers: Kristin Hughes and Kara Shallenberg
The book: Lord Peter Wimsey's mother has telephoned him to get her son to help out Mr. Thipp, an architect she has hired to do restoration work at her church. Thipp is apparently in trouble with the police over a dead body wearing nothing but a pince-nez who was found in the bathtub of Thipp's upper-floor apartment. Meanwhile, the family of Sir Reuben Levy has reported Sir Reuben to be missing. Are the two events connected? Is the body Sir Reuben's? If not, whose body is it?
The mystery, while suitably labyrinthine, is conventional of the genre, with clues dropped along the way and everything tied up neatly at the end. The main thing that sets this novel apart from other mysteries is the character of Lord Peter Wimsey. Wimsey is unusual among mystery novel detectives in that he's not that unusual. True, he's rich and slightly eccentric, but unlike Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot or Auguste Dupin, Wimsey is no social misfit. Instead, he's an engaging, likeable character who the reader cares about when he winds up in danger toward the end of the book. It's no wonder that Sayers returned to write about him for many more novels.
The readers: When I started the Free Listens blog, I said that I would only review solo recordings, since reviewing multiple readers was too much work. I'm breaking that rule to review a book with two readers. Kristin Hughes and Kara Shallenberg trade off reading every other chapter of this novel. Hughes gives a pretty much "straight" reading, letting Sayer's words do the work of conveying feeling, while Shallenberg reads with a bit more emotion. Both readers are of the enthusiastic volunteers variety rather than the professional actor type. If you've been spoiled by great actors performing books in theatrical tones, look elsewhere, but if you would enjoy two of your friends reading a entertaining story to you, you'll have fun with this one.