Skip to main content

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.

Popular posts from this blog

Book 40: The Martian by Andy Weir, audiobook read by Wil Wheaton

Note : This will be a general scattershot discussion about my thoughts on the book and the movie, and not a cohesive review. When movies are based on books I am interested in reading but haven't yet read, I generally wait to read the book until I have seen the movie, but when a movie is made based on a book I have already read, I try to abstain from rereading the book until I have seen the movie. The reason is simple: I am one of those people who can be reduced to near-incoherent rage when a movie severely alters the perfectly good story line of a beloved book, changes the ending beyond recognition or adds unnecessarily to the story ( The Hobbit , anyone?) without any apparent reason. I don't mind omissions of unnecessary parts so much (I did not, for example, become enraged to find Tom Bombadil missing from The Lord of the Rings ), because one expects that - movies based on books would be TV-series long if they tried to include everything, so the material must be pared down

List love: 10 recommended stories with cross-dressing characters

This trope is almost as old as literature, what with Achilles, Hercules and Athena all cross-dressing in the Greek myths, Thor and Odin disguising themselves as women in the Norse myths, and Arjuna doing the same in the Mahabaratha. In modern times it is most common in romance novels, especially historicals in which a heroine often spends part of the book disguised as a boy, the hero sometimes falling for her while thinking she is a boy. Occasionally a hero will cross-dress, using a female disguise to avoid recognition or to gain access to someplace where he would never be able to go as a man. However, the trope isn’t just found in romances, as may be seen in the list below, in which I recommend stories with a variety of cross-dressing characters. Unfortunately I was only able to dredge up from the depths of my memory two book-length stories I had read in which men cross-dress, so this is mostly a list of women dressed as men. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. One of the interwove

First book of 2020: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach (reading notes)

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I loathe movie tie-in book covers because I feel they are (often) trying to tell me how I should see the characters in the book. The edition of Deborah Moggach's These Foolish Things that I read takes it one step further and changes the title of the book into the title of the film version as well as having photos of the ensemble cast on the cover. Fortunately it has been a long while since I watched the movie, so I couldn't even remember who played whom in the film, and I think it's perfectly understandable to try to cash in on the movie's success by rebranding the book. Even with a few years between watching the film and reading the book, I could see that the story had been altered, e.g. by having the Marigold Hotel's owner/manager be single and having a romance, instead being of unhappily married to an (understandably, I thought) shrewish wife. It also conflates Sonny, the wheeler dealer behind the retireme