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The Nine Tailors (Lord Peter Wimsey #11)

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  9,079 ratings  ·  601 reviews
When a disfigured corpse is discovered in a country parish, the local rector pleads with Lord Peter to take on what will become one of his most brilliant and complicated cases.
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published October 1st 1989 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P (first published 1934)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 17, 2007 Krissa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shana
[borrowed from the kate]

I started to eyeball Kate's review and I can't, because I'll probably just say what she says! But here are some thoughts unfiltered.

First, okay, there was a lot about bells. Let's say, if you're not interested in learning a lot of important information about the incredibly archane field of change-ringing, put the book down and back away slowly. Then again, if you're not interested in learning something new when you read, you should probably just got watch COPS.

Secondly, o
Where I got the book; from my bookshelf.

The Nine Tailors, I have noticed, is the book people often mention in connection with Dorothy L. Sayers. It's a perennial favorite, mostly, I suspect, because of the solution to the murder--(view spoiler)
I'm having a terrible time writing this review. OK -- yes, there's a mystery and it's an interesting mystery. Yes, it's just as improbable as most of Sayers' other mysteries. Yes, the writing is gorgeous. Yes, it's literary and elliptical. And all of that is really good.

I think, though, that The Nine Tailors was something more -- I think it was DS's meditation on the divine, or if it wasn't intentionally, I think that's what she did without knowing it. The whole cast of characters is there, righ
One of my favourites of the Peter Wimsey books, though I have to say that this time I felt that there was something a bit off about the pacing. It felt a little slow in places, and because the 'murdered' man so patently obviously "deserved" it (i.e. is not a sympathetic sort of character: I'm not a fan of the death penalty or revenge killings or anything like that, but you do feel that he "got what was coming to him") it's difficult to feel any urgency about the investigation, especially because ...more
1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, in its infinite wisdom, has seen fit to make this book one of two Dorothy Sayers mysteries that you absolutely have to read or you are illiterate. I still say that Strong Poison should have made the list, but the good people at The List Inc. haven't ever listened to my suggestions and certainly aren't going to start now. That being said, The Nine Tailors is still a delightful addition to Lord Peter Wimsey's collection of exploits.

The thing I love about D
Aug 10, 2007 Alvin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
It is immaterial that this is a mystery. It is , I think, a great accomplishment in fiction.I love books that educate or impart archane info in support of atmosphere or the story and this is one of those. It had me searching for recordings of change ringing(it also helped me "get" Richard Thompson's "Time to Ring Some Changes", a small thing but there it is.Take it as read that I love and recommend all the Whimsey books and ,and yes,the boy is down with the hyper-romantic H. Vane series; which e ...more
This book is a blast, all nine bells going! The writing is energetic and in command of the craft as if a showcase of bell ringing. While a murder mystery, it is an exposition of English Church Bell ringing, chiming over the English Marshland (Fens) and the English society. This is accomplished with adroit intricacy, immersion and humor. The book, written in the early thirties feels utterly modern. The main character has no description of himself in this book, nor do any other characters, yet the ...more
This one I had trouble getting into because I was confused! See, I thought it was a novel, and then I opened the book and it said, "Changes Rung on an Old Theme in Two Short Touches and Two Full Peals," so I thought . . . ummmm, two short stories and two novellas then? So I read the first "short touch" thinking it was a short story and it was a very odd short story with lots about church bells and no mystery at all!

It was only after I turned a few pages that I realized this was indeed a novel!


There are bells in this story. Big bells, little bells, people who know how to ring bells on a professional level, the politics of bell-ringing, bells who sometimes attack their ringers, endurance tests of bell-ringing, history of bells, bells bells bells, it's stopped even being a word now and is just a noise. "Bell". Meaningless.

That is how I felt when putting down this book. I assume that a bell-ringer would go into spasms of delight while reading Th
Jul 22, 2008 Benjamin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in English churches
Shelves: fiction
I picked this one up because the adult education group at my Church read it before its June meeting. I could not make the meeting, but decided that I would read it anyway. This is a classic English detective novel; it takes place in a small town in the country, the detective comes to town by chance and a dead body shows up (sort of), and we discover the dark secrets that are kept by the villagers. However, given that it was written by Sayers, I would say that there is more to this book than jus ...more
Absolutely inimitable. A somewhat long and plodding first act, but wow, what a payoff. As much literature as it is genre fiction. Sayers is a master of the whodunnit, but at her very best, her novels encompass so much more than the whodunnit question. In The Nine Tailors, she writes about the geography of the English fen-country and the history of churchbell-ringing nearly as capably as she does murder and sleuthing. But unlike Gaudy Night, in which the backdrop drowned the mystery, The Nine Tai ...more
My grandfather was a pastor of a small rural church when I was young. I only have vague memories of his sermons during but I vividly remember walking to church on Sunday mornings to the sound of those bells ringing.

I don't attend church these days, but I still listen out for the sound of church bells - and unfortunately, the churches nearest my place all use that pre-recorded junk piped out of tinny speakers. None of them ring for anything other than keeping time. Which is a good thing, I suppos
Megan Anderson
Interesting setting and characters at times, but undeniably over-detailed and dull.

This one of last of the 10 mystery classics I thrifted last April. I love that I found these, even though some of them seem really predictable because they set industry standards and have been copied so much. The authors and characters have popped up as allusions in other books I’ve read this year.

The Nine Tailors (which refers to church bells, not a bunch of sewing guys) drags in places and seems to spend a dispr

Ahem. This is a really good one. It's smart, and it never plays to the country-bumpkin stereotype, and it's also weirdly (in a good way) driven by forces beyond the characters' control: floods and bells.

I love that they went about everything the wrong way, at least to start (view spoiler) - and I love that this book shows how complicated the truth can sometimes be. It skates over themes of guilt and complicity, wh
Read this in college for a Detective Fiction class and wanted to spork my eyes out by the time I was done. Halfway through, my economics text (a class which I nearly failed, BTW, and was taught by an Alan Greenspan worshipper) was looking good in comparison.

Like many books in high school and college, this book suffered from the Required Reading Syndrome. No avenue of escape. You have to read it and there's a test. For the record, I'm not a proud ignoramus. I was gobbling up Livy, Suetonius, Plat
The mystery here is complex and interesting, and the book has plenty of Lord Peter doing terribly charming and wonderful things, which is always nice, but it is the atmospheric setting of East Anglia, used by Sayers to brilliant effect, that really made the book for me. I nearly cried during the final climactic scene, it was that powerful.

I understand some people don't like that it has so much detail on the history of the bells and change-ringing, but I found it to be just the right amount and
The Gatekeeper
Nov 12, 2008 The Gatekeeper rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: teens and adults
Recommended to The Gatekeeper by: my history/literature program
Well, I'm never going to look at bells the same way again. :) This is, without doubt, the best detective story I've ever read. Not only was it a brilliant mystery with lots of surprises, it was also a fascinating piece of literature in other ways. I think the setting and characters added a lot to the story. It was very well-written overall; and the detective actually seemed human! :) There were also some interesting allusions to the author's Christianity (which I might not have picked up if it w ...more
Mar 15, 2008 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone!
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I have read it and re-read it and I never get tired of it. I read it before I became an Episcopalian, and I think it contributed to my enthusiasm for the Episcopal church!! All those wonderful scenes in the church, the building itself, the bells, the liturgy, the stream-of-consciousness passages that follow Peter's thoughts during the service - tuning in and out of the Psalms and prayers - it's amazing. Tied with "Murder Must Advertise" for my favori ...more
Jul 14, 2008 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: mystery
I found this to be a cracking good read. Sayers' descriptions of the East Anglia countryside made it sound so appealing, I wanted to go there. Of course, I would want to go ANYWHERE where Lord Peter and Bunter might be in attendance. I found the descriptions of the bells and the bell-ringing fascinating: after being in a handbell choir, the thought of ringing the nine tailors would petrify me. Everything about this story is sophisticated, and the tone set by Lord Peter is just right. I highly re ...more
Katy Dickinson
This is one of the best written and greatest all around mystery stories of all time. Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey is witty and charming, unreasonably well educated, always impeccably dressed, and he can ring church bells. The history of the fen country (including the ever-present Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell) and the mathematics of change ringing are fully developed as themes within a tidy and interesting tale. I re-read this book every few years and find it freshly entertaining each ti ...more
The bells led me to this Dorothy Sayers classic.

A couple of weeks ago I was standing in the ringing chamber of an Anglican church tower in Quebec City, listening to a fascinating demonstration of English change ringing. It was total serendipity that we stumbled upon this event, but I have this huge soft spot for people who have specialist or obscure interests. With one person per bell, change ringing requires as much concentration as diamond cutting and as much teamwork as soccer, and it offers
“So I think I'd better go, said Wimsey. "I rather wish I hadn't come buttin' into this. Some things may be better left alone, don't you think? My sympathies are all in the wrong place and I don't like it. I Know all about not doing evil tha good may come. I'ts doin' good that evil may come that is so embarrassin'."
"My dear boy," said the Rector, "it does not do for us to take too much thought for the morrow. It is better to follow the truth and leave the results in the hand of God. He can forsee
I must not have recorded my original reads because i know I didn't read this book first. It isn't the first in the series--not sure where it fits--but it IS the BEST! Well, okay there are some later ones with Lady Harriet with more bantering humor, but mystery-wise, this is #1!
The novel opens with Lord Peter Wimsey having a minor car accident on his way to celebrate the New Year. While his car is recovered and mended he and his valet, Bunter, are welcomed into the home of the local Rector. Given he has some experience with bell-ringing, Lord Peter is recruited as a substitute for a ill parishioner to take part in a nine-hour New Year's Eve bell-ringing. He and Bunter continue on their way a day or so later. However, when the corpse mentioned in synopsis above is disco ...more
This was my first DLS mystery and my introduction to Lord Peter Wimsey. The first 75 pages or so of the book was very slow and had too much history about bells and change ringing. I'm a fan of historical fiction, but I have to say, there was just an overload of somewhat useless information which dragged the story down.
I did really much enjoy Sayer's description of the country and her characterization. I don't know if this was a good book to start off the Lord Peter series, but I'm intrigued by
Peter Wimsey – on the way to spend New Year with friends – finds himself stranded deep in the Fens in a snow storm. The vicar of the nearby village – Fenchurch St Paul – offers him a bed for the night while his car is repaired and Wimsey finds himself part of a bell ringing marathon. When a body is found in a newly dug grave it seems natural for Wimsey to be consulted especially as no one can identify the corpse and the police are baffled.

The background is atmospheric and authentic with the Fens
This is arguably one of the most original mysteries ever written, and a treat to reread, with its ingenious plot that involves the obscure English art of ringing church bells, a missing necklace, a mysterious corpse and the austerely beautiful fen country of east England. This has always been my favorite Sayers novel but I haven't read it in years and I was happy to find that it has held up extremely well. Things don't always when you come back to them later.

I was surprised to find how useful L
The last Wimsey. Last that I hadn't read, I mean. I couldn't remember whether this one or Five Red Herrings was the truly bad one; I meant to save the worst for last, but guessed wrong, so ended up surprised by the quality of this chilly, densely-peopled, eerie book. She writes beautifully of the fens, the tiny villages, the convolutions of life around the church, the rising water, the ringing ringing ringing of the bells. I stopped reading this as a murder mystery very early and recalibrated my ...more
Having read Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael books right before the Lord Peter Wimsey books, I'm even more aware that the Fen Country in this book is almost ENTIRELY a product of artifice. From Frog's Bridge on, it's clear that the dykes and ditches are what makes the very existence of the communities, farms, etc possible.

In this flattened landscape, there are a few promontories from the old days. There are old docks and warehouses at Walbeach, for example, though it hasn't been a port for centuri
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The Agatha Christ...: January 2015 (Additional): The Nine Tailors 14 17 Feb 16, 2015 12:12PM  
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Dorothy Leigh Sayers (Oxford, 13 June 1893 – Witham, 17 December 1957) was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.

Dorothy L. Sayers is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. However, Sayers herse
More about Dorothy L. Sayers...

Other Books in the Series

Lord Peter Wimsey (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #1)
  • Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #2)
  • Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #3)
  • Lord Peter Views the Body (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #4)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
  • Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #6)
  • Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #7)
  • Have His Carcase  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #8)
  • Hangman's Holiday: A Collection of Short Mysteries (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #9)
  • Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #10)
Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #1) Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #6) Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #3) Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #10) Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #12)

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“The bells gave tongue: Gaude, Sabaoth, John, Jericho, Jubilee, Dimity, Batty Thomas and Tailor Paul, rioting and exulting high up in the dark tower, wide mouths rising and falling, brazen tongues clamouring, huge wheels turning to the dance of the leaping ropes. Tin tan din dan bim bam bom bo--tan tin din dan bam bim bo bom--tan dan tin bam din bo bim bom--every bell in her place striking tuneably, hunting up, hunting down, dodging, snapping, laying her blows behind, making her thirds and fourths, working down to lead the dance again. Out over the flat, white wastes of fen, over the spear-straight, steel-dark dykes and the wind-bent, groaning poplar trees, bursting from the snow-choked louvres of the belfry, whirled away southward and westward in gusty blasts of clamour to the sleeping counties went the music of the bells--little Gaude, silver Sabaoth, strong John and Jericho, glad Jubilee, sweet Dimity and old Batty Thomas, with great Tailor Paul bawling and striding like a giant in the midst of them. Up and down went the shadows of the ringers upon the walls, up and down went the scarlet sallies flickering roofwards and floorwards, and up and down, hunting in their courses, went the bells of Fenchurch St. Paul.” 6 likes
“The art of change-ringing is peculiar to the English, and, like most English peculiarities, unintelligible to the rest of the world. (The change-ringer's) passion - and it is a passion - finds its satisfaction in mathematical completeness and mechanical perfection, and as his bell weaves her way rhythmically up from lead to hinder place and down again, he is filled with the solemn intoxication that comes of intricate ritual faultlessly performed.” 4 likes
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