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Today on the blog I’ll be reviewing the detective novel Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers. An enigmatic detective, a death under curious circumstances and an entertaining insight into the advertising industry of the early 20th century this book has everything it needs to be a classic.
What’s it about?
Murder Must Advertise is one of several detective novels written by Sayer featuring the detective: Lord Peter Whimsy. In this novel we follow Lord Peter Whimsy as he takes a break from his usual Lordly pursuits and begins work in Pym’s advertising agency. Undercover, as copywriter Death Bredon.
Whilst undercover the detective takes the opportunity to investigate the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of his predecessor, Victor Dean. The unfortunate man had fallen head first down the spiral staircase at Pym’s agency to his death.
However, it would seem that there’s more to the death of the copywriter than was been initially reported…
What I liked about this book?
You may remember from one of my earlier posts, but I quite enjoy early detective novels. Sherlock Holmes is one of my favourite detectives of all (You can read my review of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes here) but it seems I have a new contender!
Death Bredon AKA Lord Peter Whimsy is a great character. He’s enigmatic and resourceful, able to move fluidly between environments flawlessly to gain the necessary information. He’s very clever (as all good detectives must be) but not perfect. We see in this stories a few instances where Sayers provides insights into the thoughts of the detective that show him to be capable of mistakes.
The strong connection the detective has with his family is a delight to read. The scenes in the novel with both his sister, brother-in-law and nephew are a delight to read. As this is only one of several stories about Lord Peter Whimsy, I imagine that these relationships are developed further as books progress.
The actual mystery component was pretty well done. It had some unexpected turns and developments. I was trying the whole time to figure out who did it, and really enjoyed seeing the unravelling of the story.
What I liked least about this book?
This book is very dialogue heavy. While that’s not something I dislike in books, it does mean I have to be in the right mood to read. If I’m tired I find myself skimming or missing important information and having to come back and re-read. This book is perhaps a little harder to get into than The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. It’s worth the bit of extra effort in my opinion.
The ruthlessness at times of Lord Peter Whimsy caught me by surprise and was chilling. Again, not really something to dislike and I think it made him a better and more complex character. Some scenes in the book where the darker elements shone were uncomfortable for me. That’s no reason for me to dislike this book as a whole though. It makes Lord Peter Whimsy someone you’re unsure if you really know who he is, or how you feel about him.
If you’re someone who loves a complex and at times darker hero perhaps this is the mystery novel for you.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I quite like classic books and really enjoy detective novels. There’s something about detectives from a by-gone era that I find charming and intriguing. Without the assistance of modern forensics and technology they’re able to solve the who-done-it of the story.
I think I’ll pick up another of Dorothy L. Sayer’s books to get to know Lord Peter Whimsy and his family better. The setting of this book in an advertising agency was entertaining. As a former copy writer herself Sayer’s shares insights about the industry that anyone working in those industries will relate to.
If you’re a fan of a complex mystery, a dashing detective consider grabbing a copy of this book. Maybe you’re in advertising, or a writer yourself, this book will give you a few laughs along the way.
Where can I get a copy?
*Thinking of checking this one out? If you enjoyed todays review you can pick up a copy of Murder Must Advertise here from the Book Depository.
Who is your favourite detective or mystery writer? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.
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In other news
You may have noticed the tea in the picture in this post. I’ve been doing some freelance writing for Plum Deluxe a tea company based in the USA. They sent me some of their lovely teas to try and they’re all beautiful.
You may occasionally see some of their teas feature in pictures on my blog. I just really enjoy them and want to share them with my fellow readers and tea drinkers. I don’t get an incentive if you choose to purchase these teas. This is just a product I really enjoy and thought my readers might too.
If you’re interested you can check out a recipe I created for Plum Deluxe for a Chai tea affogato here.
Until next week,