The Nine Tailors: A New Year’s Best Read

A winter’s eve in the desolate Holy Land of the English where stolen emeralds and unfaithful servants sow the seeds of mystery and death.  The Nine Tailors by Christian author Dorothy L. Sayers is set in the Fen country of northeastern Britain, a bleak marshy landscape where clanging church bells compete for dominion with the cold whistling wind.  It’s New Year’s Eve in the early Depression years of the 1930s and in the shadow of an East Anglia steeple someone is about to meet their Maker.

From the thrill of the whodunit chase to the mathematical complexities of change ringing that provide the essential clue to the core of the mystery, The Nine Tailors offers the reader a nice meaty plot along with a side order of intellectual stimulation—a satisfying bangers-and-mash combination.  Lord Peter Wimsey and his manservant, Bunter, are at their best in this classical conundrum from one of the grande dames of crime fiction.

Dorothy Sayers not only brings us an enjoyable feat of fiction, she also introduces us to the English language in all its richness.

By contrast with the brilliance below, the bell chamber was somber and almost menacing.  The main lights of its eight great windows were darkened throughout their height; only through the slender panelled tracery above the slanting louvers the sunlight dripped rare and chill, stripping the heavy beams of the bell cage with bars and splashes of pallid gold, and making a curious fantastic patterning on the spokes and rims of the wheels.  The bells, with mute black mouths gaping downwards, brooded in their ancient places.

The tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells.

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4 Responses to The Nine Tailors: A New Year’s Best Read

  1. Semi says:

    I’m putting this on my must read list. Thank you!

  2. Perry Palmer says:

    I love Dorothy Sayers and I just reserved this at the Library! Don’t you wish there were sophistication and class in our world the way she writes about her hers? Thanks!

    • I’m with you, Perry. I read and re-read the classics—there is just no comparison with today’s writers. Class and sophistication have given way to the vulgar and the trite. And the range of vocabulary words in the modern day writer’s lexicon is pitiful.

      Sayer’s Gaudy Night is another favorite of mine with the backdrop of Oxford and academia during the 30s.

    • And just in case you might be interested, Perry….BBC 4 Extra Radio is broadcasting the Nine Tailors in serial format. The first two episodes are available in their radio player archive.

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