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Murder Must Advertise (1933)

by Dorothy L. Sayers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lord Peter Wimsey (10)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,7011053,247 (4.15)345
The ad men at Pym's can sell anything, even murder. The iron staircase at Pym's Publicity is a deathtrap, and no one in the advertising agency is surprised when Victor Dean tumbles down it, cracking his skull along the way. Dean's replacement arrives just a few days later: a green copywriter named Death Bredon. Though he displays a surprising talent for the business of selling margarine, alarm clocks, and nerve tonics, Bredon is not really there to write copy. In fact, he is really Lord Peter Wimsey, and he has come to Pym's in search of the man who pushed Dean. As he tries to navigate the cutthroat world of London advertising, Lord Peter uncovers a mystery that touches on catapults, cocaine, and cricket. But how does one uncover a murderer in a business where it pays to have no soul? Murder Must Advertise is the 10th book in the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, but you may enjoy the series by reading the books in any order. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dorothy L. Sayers including rare images from the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College.… (more)
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» See also 345 mentions

English (102)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (105)
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
There's 2 levels to this - as a murder mystery and as a depiction of life in the advertising industry. The setting here is given much more prominence than it is in other murder mysteries and obviously reflects Sayers' own experience in it.

As a murder mystery it's *fine*. Something I noticed here that's also in Strong Poison and Have His Carcase is there's a surprisingly limited pool of suspects and barely any attempt to set up red herrings. Here there's *technically* lots of characters introduced who could have done it but there's only 2 that are developed to have any suspicion or motive attached to them, really.

The advertising setting though... the actual key contrast in the book is between the evils of the cocaine trade and the slightly less evil but still pretty grubby world of the advertising industry. It's clear that Sayers is a bit vague on the drug stuff but the advertising industry is clearly deeply personal to her. A small but important subplot is Lord Peter coming up with a highly successful advertising campaign for a brand of cigarettes that gets people smoking more and gets new people into smoking The precise health effects of cigarette smoking were I assume not widely known but it's still clearly taken as read that they're not great (mention is made of the risks of people being struck down by nicotine poisoning). The parallel is extremely obvious, although it's not really tackled - the detective got rid of one murderer and helped break up a drug gang but at the same time promoted a major takeup of drugs, the only difference being it was perfectly legal. Especially knowing what we know today it's hard not to see him as morally culpable for tens of thousands of deaths ( )
  tombomp | Oct 31, 2023 |
This is Lord Peter Wimsey at his most sparkling when he is requested to investigate a death at an advertising agency. In order to do his investigation, he goes to work there undercover. ( )
  M_Clark | Jun 7, 2023 |
A sprawling spider-web of a mystery that begins by encasing you in layers of murkiness.
Who? What? Why? For the longest time you can't even get a grip on what exactly the problem seems to be.
Seemingly erratic behavior by Lord Peter leads to eventual elucidation. This is a clever book and it tells a complex story.
And, as an intriguing bonus, it's set in a 1930s advertising agency so sharply detailed that it comes as no surprise that Dorothy Sayers is speaking from her own job experience. There's a lot of interesting stuff here, but (and maybe this is just me) I found it too long this time through.
Also, the resolution is pretty sad ( )
  Alishadt | Feb 25, 2023 |
In this addition to the Lord Peter series we find the protagonist working undercover at an advertising agency. The reader not only gets a thoroughly entertaining story but also an insider's look at the advertising industry of the 1920s. Included is a secondary plot involving illicit drug culture and smuggling which I found interesting. While I remembered some details from my last read, 35 or so years ago, I still enjoyed the characters and the plot. Definitely recommended, even as a standalone.
  fuzzi | Jan 31, 2023 |
With an overly complicated vocabulary and a too large cast of characters, this book was entirely to confusion to be regarded as an easy read (as I coincidentally acquired an copy meant for educational language lessons). With too many characters constantly jumping in and out of the frame it falls short as a book which one can follow and enjoy to its fullest. As a visual media it could have rather blossomed better as the storyline in itself is rather fascinating, but falls short in book format. ( )
  Dior_Eluchil | Nov 13, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sayers, Dorothy L.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arnold, FrankNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bayer, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bergvall, SonjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bleck, CathieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carmichael, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crowley, Donsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franklyn-Robbins, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
George, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kliphuis, J.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mazzoldi, ElioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Næsted, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original title
Alternative titles
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People/Characters
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Important events
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
"And by the way," said Mr. Hankin, arresting Miss Rossiter as she rose to go, "there is a new copy-writer coming in today."
[Author's Note] I do not suppose that there is a more harmless and law-abiding set of people in the world than the Advertising Experts of Great Britain.
[Afterword] The year 1920 is the generally accepted dawn of the Golden Age of detective fiction.
Quotations
The interview with the cat had been particularly full of appeal. The animal was, it seemed, an illustrious rat-catcher, with many famous deeds to her credit. Not only that, but she had been the first to notice the smell of fire and had, by her anguished and intelligent mewings, attracted the attention of night-watchman number one, who had been in the act of brewing himself a cup of tea when the outbreak took place.
“How do you do?”

“How do you do?” echoed Mr. Ingleby.

They gazed at one another with the faint resentment of two cats at their first meeting.

Mr. Hankin smiled kindly at them both.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the main work for Murder Must Advertise; it should not be combined with any adaptation, abridgement, etc.
ISBN 0450001008 is for The Nine Tailors
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

The ad men at Pym's can sell anything, even murder. The iron staircase at Pym's Publicity is a deathtrap, and no one in the advertising agency is surprised when Victor Dean tumbles down it, cracking his skull along the way. Dean's replacement arrives just a few days later: a green copywriter named Death Bredon. Though he displays a surprising talent for the business of selling margarine, alarm clocks, and nerve tonics, Bredon is not really there to write copy. In fact, he is really Lord Peter Wimsey, and he has come to Pym's in search of the man who pushed Dean. As he tries to navigate the cutthroat world of London advertising, Lord Peter uncovers a mystery that touches on catapults, cocaine, and cricket. But how does one uncover a murderer in a business where it pays to have no soul? Murder Must Advertise is the 10th book in the Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, but you may enjoy the series by reading the books in any order. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dorothy L. Sayers including rare images from the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
Witty repartee,
Murder and flashy slogans,
Lord Peter at work.
(SylviaC)
Silly Lord Wimsey
Works as adman to catch thieves
Copying himself
(pickupsticks)

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