Anne's Reviews > The Nine Tailors

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers
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's review
Oct 08, 11

Read in October, 2011

I think I have officially read enough Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries (eight including this one, though I feel like I've read Unnatural Death and just can't remember it...or was that Unnatural Causes by P.D. James?) to place this one on the spectrum.

First of all, I really liked it. I was curled up in my room with a box of tissues yesterday, and this was just the ticket. I'm a terrible mystery reader (I never can guess whodunnit, and usually I get to the solution and find that I haven't even given it any thought!), and this mystery was so tangled that it would have been impossible to figure out. But I liked the atmosphere of the whole thing. I loved Lord Peter and Bunter accidentally stumbling on this town and its bell tower and ending up saving the day--as they tend to do. And I thought the final sequence, with the Rector and Bunter mobilizing the town against the river overflowing, and Lord Peter discovering the cause of death by spending ten harrowing, gorgeously-written minutes in the bell tower while the bells were tolling, was incredibly effective and moving.

But I think that when Sayers moves Lord Peter out of his natural habitat--country houses, his flat in London, various very upscale activities, Oxford, sleuthing with Parker--she does so with varying levels of success. I thought Murder Must Advertise, while denser and a slightly tougher slog than this one, was more successful in that I never felt like I was reading a textbook about the workings of a British ad agency. Lord Peter was in disguise, so as he learned the ropes, I learned the ropes. It was fun (though admittedly the details escape me--time to watch the miniseries!). But with this one, Sayers actually points out early on that the concept of English bell ringing is something of which you can only understand the appeal if you're involved with it, or maybe if you're English. It's not something that the average reader can understand easily. Lord Peter already knew a lot about it, naturally, so it wasn't the same kind of teaching opportunity that Murder Must Advertise was. I skimmed a lot of the stuff about the bells--though I did enjoy the cipher based on Tailor Paul, that was nifty--and every time there was a whole page of somebody explaining a bell peal, I groaned a little. I did the same thing when somebody was talking about the river and the dyke and sluices and everything.

Overall, an enjoyable read, but more of it went over my head than I'm comfortable with. In the end, I'd rank it above something like Whose Body?, which is all mystery and less novel, but below the Harriet Vane books, which start out as mostly mystery but end with Gaudy Night being an incredibly good novel with a slight mystery twist, and Busman's Honeymoon being romantic fun with a totally silly mystery plot.

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Reading Progress

10/06/2011 page 49
12.0% "My copy is only 298 pages, but whatever. I love me some Lord Peter, so I'm trying not to sweat the details of the bell-ringing and the Fenchurches and all that too much. Enjoying it!"

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Alice (new)

Alice Did not like. But some people do, sooo...ok.

message 2: by ^ (new) - rated it 4 stars

^ If you can get to Riverside IL or Chicago IL, then you just might find watching full-circle bellringing brings Sayer's text to life. See Good luck.

Anne ^ wrote: "If you can get to Riverside IL or Chicago IL, then you just might find watching full-circle bellringing brings Sayer's text to life. See Good luck."

Darn! I lived in Chicago for six years and am currently spending a year abroad. Maybe upon my return. Thanks!

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