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The Nine Tailors Paperback – Print, September 28, 1966
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About the Author
Dorothy L. Sayers was an English writer, translator, and Christian humanist. Best known for the extremely popular Lord Peter Wimsey mystery series, Sayers also penned a number of plays, including The Man Born to Be King, essays, and translations, of which she considered Dante s Divine Comedy to be her best. Sayers died in 1950, and is buried in St. Anne s Church in London.
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I disagree very much with the product description when it states that the Wimsey stories may be read in any order. That is most certainly NOT true. This book can be read out of order, but most of the other books you'll want to read in order.
Others have described the plot; I'll just say that reading this book is quite an education into campanology (bell-ringing), and, more specifically, on change-ringing, apparently a British practice.
I should note that this is a pretty dark novel; downright grim.
Dorothy Sayers was an incredible writer, and The Nine Tailors is one of her great triumphs, offering readers a poignant mystery scenario when Lord Peter is stranded in a small parish on a winter's night, and somehow finds himself joining in with a bout of change-ringing. Sayers' knowledge of this ancient art goes beyond the musical and into the mathematical, yet it is never dull, and the writing is so good you can almost hear the different bells of Fenchurch St. Paul ringing across the mournful countryside.
As always, the genius of Sayers lies in the rich characters, led by the always-fascinating Lord Peter, who is at his best here -- approachable, kind, human and interested in all those around him. The faithful Bunter adds a dash of humor and steadfast loyalty, as do the townspeople they meet, from the gentle rector and his wife, to a likeable thief, to the young teenaged girl who becomes Lord Peter's surprising partner in sleuthing.
Meanwhile: While I've read other reviews here calling Lord Peter 'stuffy' or arrogant, I just can't agree. Is Lord Peter the very picture of the British Lord? Of course, in some ways. But the character's genius is that he may look like one thing yet be quite another. Lord Peter has the ability not only to appear either charming or foolish as needed, but even more importantly, he's a genius able to be at home -- and to make others at home -- wherever he goes, from a small parish church, to a 1930s ad agency, whether in a gathering of reformed street criminals -- or a dissolute socialite's drug den.
"The Nine Tailors" is a superb book, and an excellent introduction to Lord Peter (although I do hope if you like this, you'll go back and start it all properly with "Whose Body?" and continue along in order from there)! It's a book that goes beyond satisfying as a mystery, to satisfying the soul as an excellent novel. You may think of the rolling bells more than once after reading it, and the haunting line that "Nine Tailors make a man." I found it unforgettable.
The setting is a small village in post World War I England, the scene of a never recovered emerald necklace robbery years earlier. Sayers narrative brings the many characters of the story alive, with their own personality and manners. She offers subtle but fair clues as to what is behind recent events, and ties everything together perfectly at the end. Without giving anything away, the story has many traditional classic mystery elements: a missing treasure, a cipher, an unrecognizable body, children who thought they saw ghosts near a grave, and an odd stranger who came to the village for a few days around New Years, and then disappeared. How are all these things related?
One note of caution: the BBC made some excellent adaptations of the Lord Peter Wimsey books in the early 1970’s, starring Ian Carmichael. The four-part Nine Tailors version is very well done, but it differs from the book in an important way, in that a key element of the mystery is disclosed very early in the BBC version but only comes to light gradually in the book. So read the book first to get the story the way the author intended.
Most recent customer reviews
enjoyment and this is by far the least engaging and satisfying of the lot.Read more