Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers

I haven't read many of Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey novels that don't also include Harriet Vane so I decided to treat myself to one of the mysteries Lord Peter solves before Harriet steals his heart, and I just happened to pick the one that is reputed to be the best, The Nine Tailors

The reputation is well deserved as The Nine Tailors is a perfect mystery.  Plenty of suspects, some of them nasty and some of them nice, an intricate plot but not one that is so complicated it's unreasonable, and a lot of interesting stuff going on that is pertinent to the plot but doesn't seem to be.

I loved learning about campanology, the study of bell ringing--btw, the nine tailors of the title has nothing to do with sewing and tailoring but everything to do with bell ringing--and, of course, I enjoyed Lord Peter's many quotations, literary asides, dry quips, and general decency and good humor.  Those are the reasons I enjoy Lord Peter mysteries and gravitate to them as comfort food when the mood strikes.  I also loved reading about the Fens of East Anglia, where the story takes place, and their drainage problems as well as the architecture of the church, both of which also figure into the story.  I found myself picking up my iPhone frequently whilst reading to look up words and phrases, as well as maps and diagrams of sluices.

I followed up reading The Nine Tailors by checking out from the library the DVD of the episode of the TV series starring Ian Carmicheal.  It was alright--the first episode was a complete flashback which showed the theft of the emeralds at the heart of the mystery and then showed Lord Peter and Bunter in WWI, which was very weird because they looked no different, apart from facial hair and uniforms, than they did ~15 years later when the mystery is unraveled.  Apart from that, the adaptation was fairly faithful but nowhere near as enjoyable to watch as to read.  I actually found myself nodding off at times, something that never happened while I was reading the mystery.


  1. I have not read these books but they sound really good.

    One thing that struck me about your commentary was the bell ringing. I love it when a book delves into something so odd and obscure. In some ways I think when an author takes such a direction it adds real depth to a work.

  2. I've watched a couple of the Ian Carmichael Wimseys, and they're nowhere near as good as the Edward Petherbridge ones. He's perfect as Wimsey, although I suppose he does have the advantage of starring in the adaptations of the Harriet Vane ones.

    I think my favorite Wimsey novel without Harriet Vane is Murder Must Advertise, but I like this one a lot too.

  3. I tried to read this book, though I was not able to finish it for some reason. I think I was just not in the mood at the time. I think I'm going to try this series another time, since I think I would really enjoy them.

  4. I think The Nine Tailors was my first Sayers novel, and I remembering liking it quite a lot. Still, I'm guessing the ones with Harriet Vane are the best, and I'm looking forward to reading more of those.

  5. I'm so glad you are enjoying Sayers. I started reading her books when I lived in east Anglia for a few years, in the same town she had lived in. You might prefer the Harriet Walters, Edward Petherbridge DVDs from 1987, I thought that series was better anyway.

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