Top Mysteries Challenge review: The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers

Genre: Mystery
Year of publication: 1934
No. in series: 10
Series detective: Lord Peter Wimsey
Type of mystery: Murder, theft
Type of investigator: Amateur
Setting & time: The Fens, England; contemporary

An accident strands Wimsey and Bunter for several days in a small Fenland village on New Year’s Eve. Several months later, when an unidentified body is found in a grave originally dug just after the new year, the parson asks Wimsey to come and investigate, which he does with his usual insight and tenacity.

This is another excellent mystery by Sayers, a well-written and dense puzzle plot. The plot features something that can be either a plus or a minus point, namely a gimmick few people know much about, in this case change-ringing. The (thankfully short) passages on change-ringing read like Chinese to me, and probably to most people, but other than this is an easy read, too easy perhaps, because I figured out just about the whole plot development way ahead of Wimsey, all except the final twist, which I must admit came as a shock. Incidentally, the cause of death is not a plausible one, but in the context of the story it is makes complete sense .The non-mystery scenes during the flood are nothing short of brilliant and show the strength of Sayer’s literary talent. 4 stars.

Books left in challenge: 77
Place on the list(s): CWA 17; MWA 28
Awards: British Crime Writers Association - 1999 Rusty Dagger award for best crime novel of the 1930s


George said…
Dorothy Sayers was also a pretty good translator, too. Sayers considered her translation of Dante's DIVINE COMEDY to be her best work.
Dorte H said…
I thought it was fun to learn about the change-ringing, and other attractions were the environment and - as you say - the excellent scene of the flood.

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