Recommendation: The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers

English Bell Ringing, Stolen Emeralds and Murder

The Nine Tailors has a lot of detail about bell ringing as part of a beautifully crafted, richly timbred detective novel

My memories from my first reading of The Nine Tailors was that it was a bit slow and there was way too much detail about English change-ringing of church bells. I think that helpfully set me expectations for a recent rereading and this time I loved it. It does take a while for a corpse to be found and so the whole first section of the book is introducing setting and characters and there is a lot about ringing church bells. The body is found in the second section and from there things speed up. This second time I deeply appreciated the pacing and craftsmanship. I also found a better approach for dealing with the bell detail. Each section starts with excerpts from rather dry bell ringing manuals. The trick is just to let this roll over you and accept that there are clever bell jokes in the chapter headings that you cannot comprehend! All the info about bell-ringing that you need to follow the plot is in the main text. And you only need the vibe. So, expect a slow start, don’t get bogged down in the bell ringing and settle in to enjoy this exquisitely crafted detective novel.

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