Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Marvellous mystery but class-ridden characters

The Nine Tailors (Lord Peter Wimsey, #11) One of my favourite authors, Jim Kelly, was inspired to write after reading Dorothy L Sayers's The Nine Tailors, so I thought I'd give it a go.

The book's detective is Lord Peter Wimsey, amateur sleuth, who finds himself stranded in the Fenlands on New Year's Eve. To be honest, I didn't really warm to Wimsey, and I can't say I liked many of the characters in the book. They all seemed a bit too class conscious, but perhaps this was intentional. The Industrial Revolution ignored the isolated village of Fenchurch St Paul, which seems stuck in the early 18th century. It's a place I would have wanted to escape from. Characters are obsequious or in-bred, and I found Wimsey somewhat patronizing.

However, the real characters of the book are not people, but the bells and the sense of place. Some reviewers have said they couldn't get along with the need for such intricate explanations of bell ringing, but it is an essential part of the tale. And I now see what an influence Sayers's landscape descriptions had on Jim Kelly. The mystery itself was fantastic, and even 93% into the book I was still confused as to who the murderer could be. In the end, I used Sherlock Holmes's logic; when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. And indeed it was.

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