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The Documents in the Case Paperback – 16 Feb 2004

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Frequently Bought Together

The Documents in the Case + Hangman's Holiday: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery Book 9 + Lord Peter Views the Body: Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery Book 5
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; 1st Nel Edition edition (1 Dec. 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0450002438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0450002434
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,221 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Her books are English Literature at its best. Her plots are finely tuned and her Lord Peter Wimsey is delightful (The Times (letter))

She brought to the detective novel originality, intelligence, energy and wit. (P. D. James)

I admire her novels . . . she has great fertility of invention, ingenuity and a wonderful eye for detail (Ruth Rendell)

'She combined literary prose with powerful suspense, and it takes a rare talent to achieve that. A truly great storyteller.' (Minette Walters)

Book Description

The best of the golden age crime writers, praised by all the top modern writers in the field including P. D. James and Ruth Rendell, Dorothy L. Sayers created the immortal Lord Peter Wimsey. But in this thrilling murder story she tells her story instead through the letters of the victim and the suspects. With an introduction by Elizabeth George.


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 14 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Is this the only Sayers mystery novel not to showcase Lord Peter? I'm not sure but it marks a whole other direction that Sayers could have taken in her writing.

Made up of 'the documents in the case': primarily letters, reports and a couple of witness statements, there is no overall narrator who pulls the whole story together and yet the reader is intriguingly drawn into not just the murder but the lives, inner and outer, of the characters involved.

Very much of it's time, this gives an intriguing view of London in the 30s when artists were still Bohemian and therefore morally suspicious, when the whole-food/healthfood/natural food thing was just absurd and ridiculous, and when there was a huge intellectual ferment over quantum theory/chaos theory and what that means for relion and life. I'm making this sound incredibly intellectual and dull but trust me it isn't: these themes are woven very skillfully into the narrative, but this is fundamentally a story of the clash of people and the resulting murder.

The characters were well drawn, if stereotypical: the slightly mad spinster with an obsession with sex, the modern young novelist with his intellectual theories, the beautiful but dumb wife married to an engineer much older than her, the morally dubious but brilliant artist... and yet while we read the book we believe in these people.

If you want a slap-bang murder on page 1 with lots of blood and gore, then this probably isn't the book for you; but if you want a light, yet entertaining read, with an ingenious murder at the heart of it, then I recommend this.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
This book presents a series of documents relating to a suspicious death. The documents take the form of letters, medical reports, newspaper headlines, etc. The format gives less room for the witty conversational style of other novels by Dorothy L. Sayers, but I believe this is one of her best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Mann VINE VOICE on 4 July 2013
Format: Paperback
My wife has been reading crime fiction all her life - she's in her 50s - and she just told me this is the best one she has ever read, so I though it was worth noting this here (she doesn't do reviews).

Her favourite authors are people like Patricia Wentworth and Agatha Christie as well as Dorothy L. Sayers so that gives you an idea of the type of books she likes.

I can confirm she couldn't put this book down - particularly near the end she couldn't go to sleep until she had finished it - so it sounds like it is worth a read. I'm very tempted to read it myself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jane on 6 May 2015
Format: Paperback
This is, I think, loosely based on the Edith Thompson/Bywaters case and Sayers wrote it with Robert Eustace. Eustace and Jepson together wrote "The Tea Leaf", one of the classic short story murder mysteries of all time, widely anthologised. ( I think Eustace also collaborated with Mrs. L. T. Meade). For this book, Sayers revived the epistolary novel - common in the eighteenth century and also used by Wilkie Collins in The Moonstone. ( It was used much later by Sarah Caudwell in Thus Was Adonis Murdered.) I liked the way that the letters gave different views of what was going on. Some of the characters are indeed stereotyped, notably the batty spinster, but I think the central characters are well observed. Sayers always wrote well on the subject of artists/writers/bohemian lifestyle, although she was not without the prejudices common to her time. I was not sure what I thought about this book when I started to read it, but got into it , liked it and re-read it - in fact, my copy fell apart. For those really interested in the genre, I suggest you also read F. Tennyson Jesse's A Pin to See the Peepshow which ( I think) is also based on the Edith Thompson case. Note: this book does not contain Lord Peter Wimsey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By snowqueen01 on 12 Aug. 2009
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Not Wimsey, but just as good. A really clever way to pull together a murder mystery, using letters and staements to see different views of the same action. Obvious almost from the outset whodunnit, but the journey to prove it is very interesting. And the science-y bits are an intelligent change from the pure emotion of some thrillers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Care on 31 Dec. 2013
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I am fairly new to Dorothy Sayers and this one came recommended. It is a superbly written book with tension slowly rising throughout and some keenly observed human behaviours and frailties.The ending was right up my street too, but give away more than that would be a spoiler.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had always rated Margery Allingham's literary skills above those of Dorothy Sayers; this epistolary masterpiece, however, builds in tension and creates a wonderfully believable story which matches the best of Margery Allingham's books.
It does not feature Lord Peter Wimsey but instead, some more everyday characters, whose idiosyncrasies are cleverly brought to light by the rather brusque central protagonist who shows a surprising sense of understanding.
There is also a meddling, self important "maiden" home help who creates many of the problems, and inadvertently sets the murder scenario on track.
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By Henrietta on 1 Jan. 2015
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Absolutely dreadful. Tedious and dull. Whatever was DL Sayers up to? The documents in the case turn out to be interminably boring letters setting the scene in hobnail boots with a very predictable denouement. This a short story with waffle to pad it out into a novel. Not DL Sayers best by a country mile and if it was the first of her books I read it would have been the last.
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