Dorothy L. Sayers was a very intelligent writer of mysteries and in "Hangman's Holiday", a collection of twelve stories, most featuring Lord Peter Wimsey or Montague Egg, that intelligence shines through in mysteries that are extremely hard to solve. In fact, these stories do not read as mysteries to be solved by the average reader, but puzzlers to showcase the wit and fancy of their remarkable writer, for most endings are thoroughly ingenius but darn difficult to come by. It is a mixed collection, enjoyable for a devoted Sayers' fan, but not necessarily suited to a casual mystery reader unfamiliar with the author's style.
Some of the standouts in the collection are the first two Wimsey stories, "The Image in the Mirror" and "The Incredible Elopement of Lord Peter Wimsey". The first features a man who seemingly commits murder without remembering any of them, and the second, a story that relies upon a bit of magic and superstition to resuce an American woman turned zombie (of sorts). The best (and most gruesome) Montague Egg story is "Maher-Shalal-Hashbaz" which features an odd advertisment for cats that are good mice catchters. Monty finds himself struck by the odd advertisement and the even odder fate of these cats. "Murder in the Morning" is another fun Montague Egg story, while solutions to others like "Sleuths on the Scent" and "One Too Many" rely on clues the reader does not have. The final two stories, "The Man Who Knew How" and "The Fountain Plays" are both delightful mysteries, the first featuring an odd tale about committing a "perfect murder" and the second a strange bit of blackmail.
All in all, "Hangman's Holiday" is an enjoyable collection of classic Sayers' mystery stories. Each story showcases the inventive imagination and intelligence of one of the greatest mystery writers. Even if her stories and novels are definitively situated in a particular time and place, the motivations and themes are transcendent and universal.