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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Nine Tailors (1934) by Dorothy Sayers

Book Review
The Nine Tailors (1934)
by Dorothy Sayers

   Dorothy Sayers is a charter member of the Golden Age of Detective fiction, but she's probably less interesting to contemporary critics and the audience for mystery books.  Two of her titles made the 1001 Books project, The Nine Tailors and Murder Must Advertise.  The Nine Tailors makes it for a well regarded "literary" sense of place and character development, which it combines with a complex set of story mechanics involving the science/art of bell ringing as an integral part of unravelling the mystery at hand.

  Lord Peter Wimsy, here playing himself (he spends much of Murder Must Advertise "under cover" at an advertising agency.)  Has his car break down on the way to an ill defined country estate and makes the acquaintance of a Rector who runs a rural church with an above-average set of nine church bells (the "Nine Tailors") of the title. I'll cop to the fact that I maybe didn't get as much out of The Nine Tailors as someone who actually appreciates the art and science of church bells, since the solving of the mystery involves a cipher built around the notation used for sequences of bell ringing.

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