A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
I refuse to have this thing taken along to my surgery. Corpses aren’t popular in Harley Street.
“In The Teeth of the Evidence” finds Dorothy L. Sayers’ incomparable detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, enlisting the help of his own dentist to solve a particularly tricky murder case. A body is found in the ashes of a fire in suburban London. Was it an accident involving gasoline and an amateur car mechanic? A suicide disguised for insurance purposes? Or simple murder? Wimsey seems convinced it’s more complicated than any of that, and his reluctant dentist is dragged along to help prove his point.
Sure, it’s an early instance of forensic work in detective fiction. And it is certainly interesting to see baffled police of the 1930’s act as if Wimsey’s insistence on careful scientific work is some stroke of genius. But that’s not really the gist of the story. Sayer’s mystery is a nice puzzler, the characters are surprisingly fleshed-out given the story’s length, and the dialogue is just perfect. The opening scene in which Wimsey interviews his dentist while simultaneously getting a temporary crown is particularly hilarious.
You can’t go wrong with this one, or really any of the other Wimsey stories, next time your in the mood for a quick crime read.