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The Nine Tailors

(Lord Peter Wimsey #11)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  13,281 ratings  ·  976 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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Barry Haworth As the others have answered, not at all. In the Peter Wimsey books there are many recurring characters and some plot lines which develop across the…moreAs the others have answered, not at all. In the Peter Wimsey books there are many recurring characters and some plot lines which develop across the series - Peter's relationship with Harriet Vane, or the career of of his friend Charles Parker - but most of the books in the series are quite definitely standalone, and this is one of them. The setting, the main characters (apart from Lord Peter and his manservant Bunter), and the situation are all fully contained within this book.(less)

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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
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)
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
Maria Thomarey
Ένα εξαιρετικο υπόδειγμα για όσους θέλουν να γράψουν για αλλα πράγματα χρησιμοποιώντας μια αστυνομική ιστορια . Πρεπει να το διαβάσουν για να δουν οτι οταν γράφουμε ενα αστυνομικό Βιβλίο στο κέντρο του βιβλίου πρέπει να βρίσκεται το έγκλημα. Έτσι λοιπόν σε αυτό το μικρό διαμάντι Εδώ έχουμε τη δυνατότητα να μάθουμε πάρα πολλά πράγματα για τις καμπάνες,για την τεχνική των κωδωνοκρουσιων, Για την αγγλική επαρχία για το περίεργο χιούμορ των εγγλέζων και πάνω απ'ολα Για τον φοβερό τρόπο που λειτουργο ...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
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
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
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
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!

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.)
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!
Dorothy L Sayers' dramatisation with Ian Carmichael. Another interesting BBC dramatization.

Free download available at Faded Page.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Perhaps a Dorothy Sayers was what I needed just now, but I'm not sure this was it. There was a *lot* of technical stuff about change ringing church bells - excerpts from various books on the subject. For example, after a list of numbers, meaning the order in which the bells are to be rung is:
Out of the hunt, middle, in and out at 5, right, middle, wrong, right, middle and into the hunt (4 times repeated).
Out of the hunt, wrong, right, middle, wrong, right, in and out at 5, wrong and into the
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Nine Tailors is a book I think about fondly, although I can’t quite think of why. Some of it is the atmosphere, I think: the Englishness of this little village in the Fens, and the music of the bells woven all through the story — or, not music exactly, but the complex mathematical patterns of British bell-ringing. In a way, that’s how this mystery feels, too: it’s complex, with several mistaken identities and a long unsolved mystery. It’s also a sad one, because a family gets shattered throu ...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
Elizabeth Rowntree
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite of her books so far.
Feb 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
What with the toffs fah-fahing: "...she was of the bulldog breed and had been brought up in the knowledge that a servant was a servant, and that to be afraid of a servant (one's own or anybody else's) was the first step to an Avernus of domestic inefficiency." (Very Downton Dowager Duchess!!) - and the locals ooh-aahring: "I was only a-dusting the room, 'm..." - Sayers has us well and truly immersed in the East Anglian countryside of the late 1920s!

I'd heard great things about this book but I'm
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dls-challenge
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
Jul 10, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like copout mysteries
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
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
The Gatekeeper
Oct 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Perhaps it was Christmas, perhaps it was my own busyness, but I thought Parts I and II dragged a bit. I kept checking page numbers; sighed that part of the mystery was - once again - who the corpse belonged to (I did figure it out before it was revealed); and was wondering about Sayers' story.

Then, the mysteries unraveled and it turned beautiful. My friend pointed out a quote from early in the book that tied the whole thing together, "Where there is a church, there is civilization."

« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • A Presumption of Death (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane, #2)
  • The Franchise Affair (Inspector Alan Grant, #3)
  • Flowers for the Judge (Albert Campion #7)
  • The Sirens Sang of Murder (Hilary Tamar, #3)
  • The Moving Toyshop (Gervase Fen, #3)
  • Death at the Bar (Roderick Alleyn, #9)
  • Hamlet, Revenge! (Sir John Appleby, #2)
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 15 books)
  • Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #1)
  • Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey, #2)
  • Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey, #3)
  • Lord Peter Views the Body (Lord Peter Wimsey, #4)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
  • Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey, #6)
  • The Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey, #7)
  • Have His Carcase (Lord Peter Wimsey #8)
  • Hangman's Holiday: A Collection of Short Mysteries (Lord Peter Wimsey, #9)
  • Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #10)
“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.” 9 likes
“I took the liberty of ascertaining as much beforehand, my lord."
"Of course you did, Bunter. You always ascertain everything.”
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