fredag den 20. november 2009

Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors (1934)

[Dansk titel: De ni klokkeslag, 1949]

This excellent classic is the eleventh Lord Peter Wimsey mystery. It begins on New Year´s Eve, when Wimsey and his faithful butler, Bunter, end up in a ditch during a snow storm in the Fenland. They seek help at the nearest house, the vicarage, and soon kind, bewildered Reverend Venables has engaged Lord Peter to assist the local bell ringing team who are struck by a severe flu. They have ambitious plans to ring a nine-hour peal (for more information, read the story). The ringing is carried out very successfully, but in the course of the night the squire´s popular wife dies.

Of course this is not only a story about campanology. Around Easter the squire himself dies, and when the sexton finds an extra – mutilated – body in his wife´s grave, the perplexed vicar asks Lord Peter for assistance. It appears that the dead man is connected to a case about some emeralds that were stolen several years ago, and an important clue is a cipher which seems to be related to bell ringing.

What is so excellent about the story is the way the old bells and the crime story are intertwined, for example in the title which refers to the nine ´tellers´ which are rung when a man dies. And as usual, Ms Sayers is able to keep up the excitement without employing too much blood and gore.

10 kommentarer:

Jose Ignacio Escribano sagde ...

Afraid Dorothy L. Sayers is not well known in Spain. Only recently some of her books can be found translated, if my info is correct.
Anyway Dorte, thanks again for bringing her name to our attention. I look forward to read some of her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.

Anonym sagde ...

Dorte - Thanks for reminding me of this excellent book : ). As you know, I really like Wimsey, Bunter, and the rest of that group of characters, and your review made me want to go re-read this one : ).

R/T sagde ...

Dorte, my reading of Dorothy Sayers' mysteries is complicated by my reading of her books on religion and her translation of Dante; I am impressed by her versatility and erudition but sometimes disappointed by the pace of her mysteries. THE NINE TAILORS, though, is not a disappointment, and your posting provokes me to read it again; it has collected dust long enough on my bookshelf.

Martin Edwards sagde ...

A terrific book, one of my favourites by Sayers. The Fenland atmosphere is evoked splendidly.

Dorte H sagde ...

Jose: she is one of the very best writers of classical British crime stories!

Margot: my own example is so tattered now I´ll have to buy a new one if I am ever going to read it again (so I suppose that´s what I will have to do) :O

R.T.: I know that she is a great scholar, but I only know her for her crime fiction. With a few exceptions, I think they are very fine Golden Age mysteries. In my opinion her environments and characters are more interesting and credible than most of Agatha Christie´s works.

Martin: yes, the setting is certainly part of the appeal of this one. I also enjoyed learning about campanology and the idea of using this expert knowledge in a cipher.

Elizabeth Spann Craig sagde ...

I've been looking for a good Sayers book to revisit and, after reading your post and comments, this sounds like the perfect one! Thanks, Dorte.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Dorte H sagde ...

Elizabeth: I am glad I have tempted you! I think it is a fine plot and like the way Peter Wimsey uses his little grey cells (in a quite modern and convincing way, I think).

Beth F sagde ...

YOu are making me want reread all the Lord Peter books again, especially the ones with Harriet Vane. Ahhh, she really was the best.

Dorte H sagde ...

Beth: yes, wasn´t she? - oh, these good old ones.

bathmate sagde ...

As always an excellent posting.The
way you write is awesome.Thanks. Adding more information will be more useful.