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The Nine Tailors

(Lord Peter Wimsey #9)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  19,566 ratings  ·  1,333 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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Melani Moore Not at all. This is the first in the series I read, and I did not feel lost, confused, or out-of-the-loop in any way.

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 ·  19,566 ratings  ·  1,333 reviews

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Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2018-completed
Dorothy L. Sayers has done it again. Written in 1934, this 11th novel in the Lord Peter Wimsey series shines a light on another topic that I knew nothing at all about. Campanology. The word itself is mysterious, and so is its subject. Campanology is the study of bells, of change-ringing specifically, which adheres to mathematically precise ways in which the bells are rung.

In our story, it is New Year’s Eve and Fenchurch St. Paul’s is attempting to ring 15,840 Kent Treble Bob Majors to match an 1
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
”When I was a girl, we would work in the fields, and walk for miles. That was in the fens. Before I came out. Flat country, certainly but it does not let you eat it up all that easy.” She laughed. “We would skate, too, all of us girls and boys; we was nine in the family. We would skate across the flooded country during a hard winter, miles and miles, everything so brittle. The twigs on the hedges looked as if you could have broken them off like glass.”
Her eyes were suddenly brightened by wha
Jul 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
According to many this is Dorothy Sayers’s finest literary achievement. It’s the 1934 mystery novel “The Nine Tailors”, her eleventh featuring Lord Peter Wimsey in the role of the amateur detective.
‘Nine Tailors’ has nothing to do with Couture but everything to do with…Campanology - or else Bell Ringing. They are the nine strokes which at the beginning of the bell toll for the dead announce to the villagers that a man is dead. A woman’s death is announced with ‘Six Tailors.’

This - and everythin
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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)
Aug 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Toll-toll-toll; and a pause; toll-toll-toll; and a pause; toll-toll-toll; the nine tailors, or teller-strokes, that mark the passing of a man. The year is dead; toll him out with twelve strokes more, one for every passing month. Then silence. Then, from the faint, sweet tubular chimes of the clock overhead, the four quarters and the twelve strokes of midnight. The ringers grasped their ropes. ‘Go!’

The Bells! The Bells! Esmeraldaaaaaa!.....Okay, okay, wrong book. Well, at least the Esmeralda part
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
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
Halloween Bingo 2021

Dorothy Sayers is a favourite author of mine and I think this may be one of her best. I am constantly amazed about Sayers' areas of interest. When I first picked up this book, my idea of a tailor was someone who sewed and altered clothing (perhaps because that was how my great-grandmother supported herself after she was widowed). The church bell lore surprised me in a very pleasant way. It was fascinating to get educated in this obscure field of study.

Nine tailors make a
Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Nearly everyone gives this one more star than I did. But for me the reading was longer, more difficult, and at times much too gossip and village "talk" bound for me to feel tension for the story "moving along". The entire middle is very slow and has oodles of poems, rhyme, asides that use the names of the Nine Tailors (the nine huge bells in our fens' church's tower).

The embedding within fen country of marsh and river and rather random isolation is a departure from the usual Lord Peter city and
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was ok

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 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The eleventh Lord Peter Wimsey novel sees him and Bunter on their way to spend New Years with friends, when their car funs off the road, into a ditch, in a snowstorm. They find themselves stranded in the village of Fenchurch St Pauls, where they are taking in by the kindly Reverend Venables and his wife. However, far from being a relaxing evening, the Reverend discovers that Lord Peter has some experience bell ringing – his personal passion. With the village decimated by influenza, and a man sho ...more
Apr 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars - Definitely my most successful outing with Sayers recently, I found this to be less of a mystery and more of a small town literary novel. As a mystery, though I enjoyed the ultimate solution, I didn't find this to be quite to my liking, but I did very much enjoy following the goings on in a small English town in the 1930s. Overall, a very pleasant reading experience ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
This is not my favourite Lord Peter mystery.

There was a lot about bells, most of which went right over my head! I tended to skip the combinations for the ringing of the bells and also the very lengthy procedure taken to break the cypher. Other than that, it was a good read which could have been improved by not quite so much of the bell-ringing paraphernalia. I like to learn about things, but here I think Sayers went a bit overboard.

Lord Peter and Bunter find themselves marooned in a Fens village
Ann-Marie "Cookie M."
A book well beloved by ringers everywhere.
And, yes, I have had the pleasure, but handbells only.
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my five favorite mysteries set in England, and the cause for our touring the Fens and particularly Ely, and later King's Lynn and Norwich, on succeeding visits for a decade. Also an introduction to the Changes in English bell-ringing which we grew very familiar with in Whitchurch Canonicorum, Dorset, in '96. (The six bell repository of St Wlita there, old as Canterbury, but female and thought to cure eyes especially. Two of the six went back to 1603 and 1607.)

As a too-educated Ph.D. with
Oct 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
It's been an age since I last read a Lord Peter Wimsey novel. Tend to forget just how enjoyable they are. A vintage mystery set in a small English village. An unexpected twist when the "culprit" is finally denounced......very fitting.

From the Boxall 1000 list.
The Nine Tailors is a 1934 mystery novel by the British writer Dorothy L. Sayers, her ninth featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. It has been described as her finest literary achievement. I wonder if it really was her finest literary achievement, I've read many of her books and stories and have no idea which one is my favorite, this one is close though. It just about has to be my favorite since there are many things in it that would usually have me rolling my eyes and turning to the next page as fast as ...more
The New Year holiday finds Lord Peter and Bunter traveling to the fen country to stay with friends of his lordship. On the way, the Daimler has a misunderstanding with a narrow, hump-backed bridge and the pair find themselves nose down in a ditch. They make for Fenchurch St. Paul and soon become acquainted with most of the main characters in the upcoming mystery. A bout of influenza has also arrived in Fenchurch St. Paul and the Rector finds himself one man short for the bell-ringing scheduled t ...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
Nandakishore Mridula
Sep 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Did you know that once, church bells were synchronised so that they could be tolled like a music orchestra? Yes, that is right!

This is one fascinating fact I got from this very unusual mystery, where a man has been murdered without using any external force.

I loved this one!
Nov 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime, favourites
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
3.5 stars
Certain scenes definitely felt 5 stars. But I listened to this one on audio and the book did not translate well--hard to keep track of characters and the code when you can't see them. I recommend tackling this one in print.
I did enjoy it, though. I forgot how much I love Lord Peter Wimsey. He is simply the best. And here he is at his best--dropping everything to ring bells at a parsonage, championing an orphan girl, delighting over a difficult mystery. And it is a difficult one, full o
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!

Aug 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
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
Benjamin Skeen
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The bells, the bells. For campanology lovers this book has s a dream come true. Written in 1934 the story stands the test of time.

Lord Peter Wimsey with his faithful sidekick Bunter have a minor accident at Frogs Bridge and end up spending the night at the rectory in the fictional village church Fenchurch St Paul. There he is roped into nine hours of bell ringing. Due to Will Thoday a bell ringer coming down with influenza.

The rector Theodore Venables, and his wife, Agnes along with a variety
Mary Durrant
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An engaging mystery set in Fenchurch St Paul.
Wonderful characters and descriptions of the Church and the art of change ringing.
Beautifully written in the Golden age of crime era.
So of its time.
An engrossing brilliant story.
Will be looking out for more.
A re- read for me!
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Dorothy Leigh Sayers 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 herself considered her translation of Dante's Divina Co

Other books in the series

Lord Peter Wimsey (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #1)
  • Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey, #2)
  • Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey, #3)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #4)
  • Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
  • The Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey, #6)
  • Have His Carcase (Lord Peter Wimsey, #7)
  • Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #8)
  • Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey, #10)
  • Busman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey, #11)

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115 likes · 38 comments
“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.” 12 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.” 9 likes
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