Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Nine Tailors

The Nine Tailors. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1934. 312 pages.

"That's torn it!" said Lord Peter Wimsey.

While I enjoyed The Nine Tailors--in some places really loved it--I can't say that The Nine Tailors is my favorite Lord Peter mystery by Dorothy L. Sayers. I do love the series. I have enjoyed the time I've spent in each and every book. And I definitely see myself rereading these in the future. But. This one, for me, had such a slow start!

Last year before I "discovered" how much I love mysteries--vintage mysteries, cozy mysteries--I tried The Nine Tailors. But the slow start didn't quite work for me. I decided I should start at the beginning of the series. Which ended up being THE BEST decision I could have made.

So Lord Peter Wimsey (and Bunter) have a small car accident over winter holidays that leaves them stranded in the country. They're taken in by the vicar, I believe, who is just delighted with the company. (Who wouldn't be?! It's LORD PETER WIMSEY!) His accident is providential because he can ring one of the bells in the church tower for an oh-so-special service or observation. (All the bell-ringing, well, it BORED me. That could be just me. And I am not saying you'll be bored by the focus of this one.) Of course, that's just the beginning of this one.

It will be months before the real action begins, months before Lord Peter Wimsey's real services are needed. For it is in this quiet country community that a body is discovered in a grave. An extra body is discovered in a grave that is. Who was he?

There are actually a few mysteries for Lord Peter to solve in this novel, and once the body is discovered, well, this book just keeps getting better and better and better. When Lord Peter is busy on a case, well, he's irresistible.

So there is much to love in this one....after the first fifty pages. It is possible that this one will improve upon rereading. Because I am guessing that if you read it knowing how it all comes together, it may prove interesting...

Lord Peter to Bunter:

"I am always so delighted to find that there are things you cannot do." (15)

About the bells...

The art of change-ringing is peculiar to the English, and, like most English peculiarities, unintelligible to the rest of the world. (17)

Lord Peter to Hilary:

"If that's the way your mind works, you'll be a writer one day."
"Do you think so? How funny! That's what I want to be. But why?"
"Because you have the creative imagination, which works outwards, till finally you will be able to stand outside your own experience and see it as something you have made existing independently of yourself. You're lucky."
"Do you really think so?" Hiilary looked excited.
"Yes--but your luck will come more at the end of life than at the beginning, because the other sort of people won't understand the way your mind works. They will start by thinking you dreamy and romantic, and then they'll be surprised to discover that you are really hard and heartless. They'll be quite wrong both times--but they won't ever know it, and you won't know it at first, and it'll worry you."
"But that's just what the girls say at school. How did you know?...Though they're all idiots--mostly that is."
"Most people are," said Wimsey, gravely "but it isn't kind to tell them so. I expect you do tell them so. Have a heart; they can't help it." (106)

Lord Peter on Uncle Edward...

"Frightful blithering ass. Handy thing to be, sometimes. Easily cultivated. Five minutes' practice before the glass every day, and you will soon acquire that vacant look so desirable for all rogues, detectives, and Government officials." (121)

Lord Peter on gossip...

"In a quiet place like this, if one doesn't talk about one's neighbors, what is there to talk about?" (140)

Mr. Blundell on his witnesses...

"I don't like witnesses to be so damned particular about exact truth. They get away with it as often as not, and then where are you?"

Lord Peter being Lord Peter...

"My family," observed Lord Peter, "have frequently accused me of being unrestrained and wanting in self-control. They little know me. Instead of opening this letter at once, I reserve it for Superintendent Blundell. Instead of rushing off at once to Superintendent Blundell, I remain quietly at Walbeach and eat roast mutton. It is true that the good Blundell is not at Leamholt today, so that nothing would be gained if I did rush back, but still, it just shows you. (153)

A good example Sayer's writing style:

There are harder jobs in detective work than searching a couple of French departments for a village ending in "y," containing a farmer's wife whose first name is Suzanne, whose children are Pierre, aged nine, Marie and a baby of unknown age and sex, whose husband is an Englishman. All the villages in the Marne district end, indeed, in "y," and Suzanne, Pierre and Marie are all common names enough, but a foreign husband is rarer. (161)

Others in the series:

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Melissa (Avid Reader) 12:39 PM  

This was actually my first of the Peter Wimsey books. I read it last year and am looking forward to reading more.

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