Monday, May 18, 2020

37. In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy L. Sayers

This book makes me feel slightly sad. It is the last book I found in the free shelf outside of Latina supermarket on St-Viateur which is currently chained closed, I guess by some stupid overreaction in the time of the Coronavirus. I think the way we freaked out here about surface cleanliness instead of wearing masks will prove to be a big mistake, driven by cultural assumptions in the face of incomplete information. We defaulted to our North American obsession with sterility and physical purity and the result is unecessarily locked free shelves. The other thing I liked about this book is that it was already in such bad condition, I did not have to worry about damaging it further and could throw it in my bag or jacket pocked without any care.  Because it was a book of short stories, it has mostly been read while waiting in line, which has been pretty rare, so it took me almost two months to complete.

It begins with a few Lord Peter Wimsey short stories (the first one involving a dentist, thus the title), then several Montague Egg and finally by random little mystery vignettes.  It is kind of amazing to me how not only could she come up with multiple mystery scenarios for novels, she had so many extra they could also be used in short stories.  Many of these are enjoyable but not super satisfying.  I did like the Monatague Egg ones, not so much for the mystery but for the cultural context. He is a travelling salesman of fine alcohols and each story starts with him in a different location, usually at a pub, meeting up with other salesman and reminiscing about past sales.  His life philosophy and detection techniques are based on Salesman's Handbook and it is quite clever and funny how he applies some quotation from it to each mystery.  I could definitely read a few more Montague Egg stories and perhaps even a novel. 
I told you it was beat up.

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