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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably the greatest detective novel of all time
This, the ninth of Sayers's eleven full length Wimsey novels, is the one that lifts her above the category of twentieth-century female detective novelist, and places her among the literary greats.

It is a thoroughly satisfying mystery - sophisticated, complex, intellectually challenging. Everything in the plot is there for a reason; and the final explanation...
Published on 15 Mar 2011 by B. Bennetts

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Famous detective finds that church bells could kill you
A good read, giving much information on campanology, the study of bell ringing in churches. It is a typical Lord Peter Wimsey book, based on his early work as an aristocratic sleuth - his own description. Certainly an unusual look at killing. It shows great deal of research ínto a little known subject.
Published 3 months ago by Barb Mackenzie


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably the greatest detective novel of all time, 15 Mar 2011
By 
B. Bennetts (UK) - See all my reviews
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This, the ninth of Sayers's eleven full length Wimsey novels, is the one that lifts her above the category of twentieth-century female detective novelist, and places her among the literary greats.

It is a thoroughly satisfying mystery - sophisticated, complex, intellectually challenging. Everything in the plot is there for a reason; and the final explanation is ingenious and unexpected.

It is Sayers, so there is more than just a plot. The characters have a depth and realism far beyond the caricatures of Agatha Christie. They have individuality and weaknesses and baggage and unexpected strength in the face of adversity. They are, in short, people.

Wimsey himself appears more relaxed in this than in most of the other books. A far cry from the self-conscious man-about-town of 'Whose Body?' or the nervy war veteran of 'The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club', this is the Wimsey hinted at in 'Five Red Herrings': the born and bred countryman, at ease with himself, almost classless at times, an incomer who at once instinctively understands and is accepted by this tiny community.

The community itself is minutely and deftly drawn too - partly through its supporting characters, partly through Sayers's own narrative voice, stronger and more distinctive in this book than in the others, and often taking on the cadence and the overtones of a local character to remarkable effect.

And then there are the most powerful and enduring characters of all: the bells of Fenchurch St Paul and the place itself. `The Nine Tailors' is to the Fens what `The Return of the Native' is to the heathlands of Dorset. It is a work of art, a tone-poem, a sonorous evocation of place and time, a symphony of words and images that endure in the mind long after the last page is turned. (For more on the power of language in `The Nine Tailors', I refer you to my recent essay on The Art of Reading at [...])

Much attention is given in literary circles to the `great American novel'; little, if any, is given to the novel that depicts England. Yet `The Nine Tailors', for all that it is set in an obscure and bleak corner of the countryside, is as intimate and accurate a portrait of inter-war rural Englishness as anything ever written - and an enduring one at that.

~~~

One must then turn, with the utmost reluctance and distaste, to the current sub-standard paperback edition of this masterpiece (978-0-450-00100-0). It appears to have been typeset and proof-read by persons with little knowledge of, and less interest in, either the English language or the basic rules of punctuation. It is further encumbered with an arch and self-congratulatory introduction by Elizabeth George, which adds little to one's appreciation of the work, and which - to add insult to injury - is inserted between Sayers's own foreword and the first chapter, thus breaking the rhythm of the author's original text. (No doubt the same vandalism has been committed in the latest impression of Gaudy Night, where any interruption between the Foreword and Chapter 1 would be even more obtrusive. Fortunately I still have my 1988 paperback of that work.)

A minor point, but a further niggle in light of these graver shortcomings, is the faintly 1970s typography employed for the section headings.

In summary, this edition gives the unfortunate impression of having been brought to press by an editor who neither recognised nor valued the calibre and significance of the book. I have now placed my 2011 paperback in the recycling bin and ordered a second-hand hardback. On the grounds of the punctuation errors alone, I would urge anyone who wishes to read what Miss Sayers actually wrote, to eschew the current paperback edition in favour of any other second-hand copy available.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 1 May 2007
By 
S. Bailey "will work for books" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Lord Peter and Bunter drive into a ditch in the Fens. They are rescued by the vicar of Fenchurch St. Pauls, whereupon we meet Peter's previously unsuspected bell-ringing skills. This pastoral idyll is disturbed, however, by the discovery of a faceless, handless corpse in the churchyard. With almost no means of identification, even Lord Peter is pushed to discover the identity of the corpse and its murderer, but the ending to this is both a witty twist on whodunnit convention, and a genuinely moving paean to English village life.

The Peter Wimsey revealed by this quaint setting and the proximity of the clergy is a pleasant antidote to the aristocratic fool and hopeless lover we so often see. Out of the city, his charm is less forced, his wit less studied, his intellect at once more obvious and less overt. No Harriet Vane either (hurrah), just the inimitable Mr Bunter, a lot of books and a murder. What more could anyone want?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favourite novels, 17 July 2010
No word of a lie; this really is one of my all time favourite novels. I think that Dorothy Sayers was head and shoulders above all the other Queens of the Golden Age of Crime and even now only P D James and Ruth Rendell come close. This is one of her best novels; not just a detective story but a touching portrait of rural England between the wars and a way of life that must have been all but vanishing even then. Ms Sayers never writes a wasted word; her descriptions of Fenchurch St Paul and the inhabitants are entrancing. Particularly Mr Venables, the rector; kind, absent minded, so enthusiastic about his church and his bells. Ah, yes, the bells. The bells are almost characters in their own right and have a very intriguing role to play. The plot carries you along, an old scandal, a missing emerald necklace and a suitably grisly corpse in the churchyard. I re-read this regularly and - horrors! - if I was only allowed ten books for my desert island this would be one of them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great way to spend a few hours, 20 Dec 2009
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A car crash during a New Year's Eve snow storm brings Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter to the village of Fenchurch St Paul and the hospitality of the local rector, who invites Wimsey to stay and help ring in the New Year with a spectacular bell-ringing display.

Three months later, Wimsey is invited back to the village after a grave is opened to reveal two bodies where there should be only one. Wimsey's investigations dig back into a robbery 20 years earlier that ruined several lives and whose repercussions continue to be felt.

Bell-ringing features heavily in this book and although each chapter begins with an extract from `On Change-Ringing' by Troyte to set the theme that follows, it's somewhat bewildering if you're not familiar with the topic. To this end, it would have been useful for the publishers to include a quick guide to the subject at the end so that readers could get the most from the story.

That said, this is another delightful read with Wimsey and Bunter on top form. Bunter's never-ending skills extend to photographing fingerprints, although it is a shock to see his impeccable manners slip with a serving girl at the Rector's house during the investigation.

The village of Fenchurch St Paul is well-realised, with Sayers populating it with vibrant characters. Wimsey's friendship with budding teen author Hilary makes for some interesting scenes. There is a biblical feel to the denouement and Sayers offers a downbeat resolution to a story that keeps you on your toes.

All in all, it's a fascinating and delightful way to spend a few hours.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Splendid evocation of the Fens, 20 Aug 2010
By 
G. D. Busby "Cornish Graham" (Cornwall) - See all my reviews
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Several years ago, I struggled with Five Red Herrings and never finished it. So, thinking I'd try her oeuvre again, I have just finished The Nine Tailors; may be it is the print size (compared to my copy of Five Red Herrings) because that certainly aids reading but, really, it's more than that. The Nine Tailors is a wonderful evocation of fenland something like ninety years ago when life really was so much simpler. The plot is good and characterisation excellent. Being familiar with some of those massive East Anglian churches, I can vouch for the architectural detail.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ingenious and very well-written, 8 May 2014
By 
Aletheuon (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Nine Tailors (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Book 11) (Kindle Edition)
This is the ninth Lord Peter Wimsey novel, written in 1935. I read it first when I was about fifteen, when I found it boring. It took a bit more maturity before I realised what a good book it is.
The book's title is taken from an ancient English tradition of announcing a death by ringing a church bell. Three strikes on the lowered bell meant a child, six meant a woman and nine meant a man. The blows were called 'tellers' or 'tailors'. The nine tailors were the strikes on the bell that announced a man's death. In the book, the large tenor bell was used for this and was called 'Tailor Paul.' (This was a coded thank you to Paul Taylor from a bell foundry in Loughborough, who gave her the information on bell-ringing that she needed for the novel.)
Wimsey is stranded in a fenland village by a car accident and helps ring a nine-hour peal of bells (the nine tailors) when the team is left a man short. Next morning, the wife of Sir Henry Thorpe dies. Wimsey hears that, twenty years before, valuable jewels were stolen from a house guest of theirs. The butler and an accomplice were imprisoned, but the emeralds were never found.
At Easter, Sir Henry dies, too, and the family grave is opened. A mutilated body is found in the grave, thought to be that of a tramp labourer who vanished earlier in the year, but wearing (of all things) French underwear. Wimsey and Bunter, his valet, get hold of a letter from France addressed to him. The dead man seems to be Arthur Cobbleigh, a soldier believed missing in action in 1918, who had deserted and stayed in France. It begins to look as though Driver and Cobbleigh were trying to recover the emeralds and had perhaps found them. A coded document found in the bell chamber proves to be a cipher, which Wimsey decodes using his knowledge of change-ringing. However, the bells prove to have played an even bigger part in the mystery than Wimsey yet dreams.
The book has been criticised for having too much boring detail about campanology (the fifteen-year-old me heartily agreed) and it has also been debated whether the murder method would actually work (though modern science shows that it probably would). As usual with Dorothy L Sayers, the prose is written in a luminous, beautiful and erudite style. The characterisations are interesting and yet another facet of Wimsey's own immensely gifted character is disclosed. Not only is he a rich, brilliantly intelligent and a gifted musician and wit, a detective and government adviser who is pretty successful with women and swim like a fish, as disclosed in the other books - but he can do bellringing rather well. He really is the ideal man. Dorothy Sayers said that he was a cross between Fred Astair and Bertie Wooster, but he is far more than that. He is a brave soldier who came out of World War 1 with shell-shock and a deep sensitivity to the damage that investigating secrets could do and a horror of the fact that his work brought people to the gallows. He is a suffering superhero, fascinating and desirable. It has often been suggested that he was Sayers' dream man.
Dorothy Sayers is too intelligent to write a simple whodunnit. She is a thinking person who invites us to think, too.This book invites us to consider whether it is better to leave old secrets alone or seek to bring justice despite the damage this can do to innocent people. She also brings the fens alive for her readers, knowing and loving the area from spending a part of her childhood in a fenland village.
Harriet Vane, Wimsey's love interest, does not appear until the next novel in the series, and I do love most the four books in which she figures. There is no romantic and sexual tension in this book to heighten the drama. It is a bit slow to get going, too, but richly repays a reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ripping yarn with unusual flooded-fen setting, 21 April 2008
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One of Sayers' best. Most of the action takes place in the Norfolk fens. Flat, very flat, and when the "board" gets to tinkering with the drainage system, under several feet of water. Lord Peter Wimsey runs off the road in a blizzard and is rescued by a passing vicar. Only snag -- he has to step in and help ring in the New Year. So when an extra corpse is found in the churchyard, naturally Lord Peter is called in to investigate. The tale involves stolen emeralds, a friendly London jewel thief and two local brothers. Not to mention a mysterious cypher message found in the bell tower. It's not till the floods are out that Lord Peter climbs up the bell tower and guesses the secret of the mystery man's death. Let the bells give tongue! (The Nine Tailors are the nine "tellers" rung on the death of a parishioner. I think that motto should read: Nine tailors make a man; Christ's death at end in Adam yet began.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Sayers, 23 Oct 2011
This is an excellent whodunnit, full of enough twists, turns, and characters to keep even the most keen eyed reader on their toes. It is also an informative look into the arcane world of campanologists, or church bell ringers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chocolate box with many layers., 24 Nov 2010
By 
Berit Storset "margareta" (Norway) - See all my reviews
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I have read " The Nine Tailors" several times in pocket edition, and like it so much that I wanted a hardcover edition. This edition is of very good quality, with a nice dust jacket as well. Generally, I am very fond of Dorothy Sayers, and I think this is one of her best. Her description of bell- ringing, which was an unknown field to me, is an added pleasure, as an integrated part of the story, of course, but for its literary qualities as well.
The story spans wide in time and space, and leads us from a pre- world-war one world to the disillusioned 1920-ies.
Dorothy Sayers books are never just simple whodunnits, the characters are interesting, the "couleur locale" also. They are like a chocolate box with many layers,and I never tire of Peter Wimseys rather complicated personality or his manservant Bunters infinite resourcefulness.
I highly recommend this book
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and intriging., 9 Sep 2000
By A Customer
The best of the Lord Peter Wimsy Novels, the description of the bells caroling out over the countryside is beautifull it has the impact of a fine old hynm. The corpse is wrapped up in a mystery that results in a tragic and moving ending. I have read and re-read this in one sitting and would highly reccomend it.
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