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The Nine Tailors: A Lord Peter Wimsey…
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The Nine Tailors: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery (Lord Peter Wimsey… (edition 1959)

by Dorothy L Sayers

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2,997821,904 (4.08)2 / 316
Member:mooingzelda
Title:The Nine Tailors: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries)
Authors:Dorothy L Sayers
Info:New English Library (1959), Edition: New Impression, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fiction, mystery, read in 2012, given away on Bookmooch

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The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers

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English (80)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (82)
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The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers

My introduction to Lord Peter Wimsey was via the 1970s TV series staring the excellent Ian Carmichael as the aristocratic sleuth. I recall my mother and I being amused to see Ian Carmichael in this role when we thought of him primarily as Bertie Wooster in the original 1960s TV adaptation of Jeeves with Dennis Price playing the unflappable valet.

In my mind the Lord Peter Wimsey tales were simply cosy crime stories. That is how I perceived them in the TV show and that is how I thought of the novels until reading The Nine Tailors.

I have to confess that this is the first Dorothy L Sayers novel I have read. It did not disappoint but until my curiosity was aroused by a few un-sleuth-story-like allusions I did not think the tale was anything other than a cosy crime novel.

My reaction to the book on the cosy crime story level is that it very much fits the bill of the golden age of crime novels and is enjoyable in that context alone. I must admit the book brought out the aristocracy element more than I had recalled from the shows and I was finding myself a bit annoyed at the deference shown to someone with a title on the basis of nothing other than their privileged position. Lord Peter did, of course, have his reputation as rather a good sleuth.

The first thing that raised my suspicion that Sayers was doing something more than writing a detective story was the mention of Abbot Thomas. The name “Abbot Thomas” rang bells (how apropos) at the back of my mind. “Of course,” thought I, M. R. James. He has a story called [The Treasure of Abbot Thomas]. There’s a coincidence. I wonder if Abbot Thomas was a real person and his tomb is in the fens.”

Next I found intricate descriptions of carvings on the pews in the parish church. This reminded me of M.R. James’s story [The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral].

I was subsequently amused to see a chapter starting with a quote from [Wylder’s Hand] by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, the nineteenth century writer of horror stories whose tale, [Carmilla], is considered to have influenced Bram Stoker in his writing of [Dracula]. Le Fanu’s work is not as well known generally as it deserves to be so I was intrigued at Sayers quoting one of these pieces.

My curiosity roused I turned to the omnipresent Google. I entered, “The Nine Tailors Abbot Thomas Le Fanu”, and clicked the search icon. The first result of my search was:
http://irishgothichorrorjournal.homestead.com/HConrad-OBriain.html

The link took me to a paper in the academic journal, “The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Stories”.

This paper is entitled:
“Providence and Intertextuality: LeFanu, M. R. James, and Dorothy Sayers' The Nine Tailors”

It was not just my imagination. I was not the first one to notice the links. It appears Sayers was a great fan of the Gothic tale and very fond of works of Le Fanu and M R James. Being a fan of these tales too I found another level of pleasure in reading The Nine Tailors. Finding out something about an author’s interests can open up an entirely new dimension of enjoyment when reading their work.
You can read the academic paper for yourself. I will not repeat the way it explains how The Nine Tailors is structured as a Gothic novel and how it contains many of the tropes that define the genre. I had been wondering about the inclusion of the final part of The Nine Tailors as it was not necessary to resolve or explain the crime. The academic paper demonstrates that this section serves the purpose of finishing the story in the style of a Gothic novel.

I had been thinking that while I enjoyed reading this novel I probably would not deliberately chase down more stories by Dorothy L Sayers. Now that I know she has hidden Gothic allusions and structures in her works I am more enthusiastic about reading more of her books. As it happens, my wife is a great fan of Sayers’ novels so we have a few of them around the house. I wonder if my wife knew she was reading Gothic stories. ( )
2 vote pgmcc | Mar 11, 2016 |
My least favorite of her books, actually. I went into it thinking it would be one of the best, and instead I was just bored by the mystery. I did really enjoy Wimsey’s conversations with the young heiress. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Sayers' best overall Lord Peter mystery. It has it all - especially some wonderfully solid personalities. She writes with a masterful craftiness. And with such charm as well. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
3.5 stars
The Nine Tailors is a mystery/detective novel featuring Lord Peter Wimsley. The plot centers on the death of a mystery man who is found buried inside a plot that belongs to another family. There are multiple parts to the mystery including identifying the deceased, a jewel theft, uncovering the murderer, and figuring out the method. The title is taken from old church tradition in small villages of announcing death by church bells (number and types of tones indicating the details – man vs. woman, child, age, etc). Tailors = bell peals, thus 9 tailors indicates death of a man.

I liked this book. It was entertaining and I enjoyed the description of the village and the villagers. There is a lot of detail and prose about bell-ringing and I felt it was much slower moving than other types of detective novels. I prefer Sherlock Holmes who seems to take a much more active role in the solving of the mystery. Lord Wimsley seemed fairly passive although ultimately he solves all parts of the mystery. Overall an entertaining read and I liked the various elements of the mystery. It was interesting to me that the location was so important in this book, almost a character in itself – this book was as much about describing the village and it’s surroundings as it was about solving a mystery.
( )
1 vote JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Very vividly done fen country setting --the power of the floods reminds me of Der Schimmelreiter --and what I understand (not being a ringer myself) is very intelligent use of the ancient English tradition of change-ringing on church bells. Spoiler warning: in a sense, this is a variant of Roger Ackroyd, since the detective turns out to have taken part in the killing (not murder)quire innocently -- though there is in a sense a guilty party --though even he tried desperately to save his victim. ( )
1 vote antiquary | Jan 3, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sayers, Dorothy L.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bayer, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bergvall, SonjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carmichael, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eräpuro, AnnikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Francavilla, A. M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
George, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Larsstuvold, RuneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Næsted, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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By the Course Ends 64352
8th the Observation
Call her in the middle with a double, before, wrong and home. Repeated once.
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The coil of rope which is necessary to hold in the hand, before, and whilst raising a bell, always puzzles a learner; it gets into his face, and perhaps around his neck (in which case he may be hanged!). TROYTE 'On Change Ringing'

'That's torn it! said Lord Peter Wimsey.
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Book description
When his sexton finds a corpse in the wrong grave, the rector of Fenchurch St Paul asks Lord Peter Wimsey to find out who the dead man was and how he cane to be there.
The lore of bell-ringing and a brilliantly-evoked village in the remote fens of East Anglia are the unforgettable background to a story of an old unsolved crime and its violent unravelling twenty years later.
Haiku summary
The church bells have more

character than the ones

who stay to ring them.

(legallypuzzled)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156658992, Paperback)

The Nine Tailors is Dorothy L. Sayers's finest mystery, featuring Lord Peter Whimsey, and a classic of the genre.

 

The nine tellerstrokes from the belfry of an ancient country church toll out the death of an unknown man and call the famous Lord Peter Whimsey to investigate the good and evil that lurks in every person. Steeped in the atmosphere of a quiet parish in the strange, flat fen-country of East Anglia, this is a tale of suspense, character, and mood by an author critics and readers rate as one of the great masters of the mystery novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:36 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

When the parish church bells toll out the death of an unknown man, Lord Peter investigates the sinister affair.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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