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I loved that people felt it was perfectly OK to lose the plot. That often happens to me in mysteries, and this one (as you said) was so entertaining that I didn't mind.

Susan E

From my experiences reading with the Kindle, I do agree that looking backward for an unmarked passage is not as easy as it is with a paper book with its visual cues. I tend to go back to check clues and references--wait, didn't they say it was blue? kind of checking.

Rosie H

I would recommend reading Strong Poison and Have his Carcase, in that order, before reading Gaudy Night. Murder Must Advertise is another very good one to read as a one-off.


I'm guessing that I was not as concerned about the plot as the "atmosphere" since I finished this book about 2 weeks ago and can't remember "who dun it." I am fascinated by the bells and the fens...there was a murder, right? (My first Dorothy Sayers)


I think DLS acquires infinitely more depth and subtlety once Harriet appears - so would recommend Gaudy Night, Busman's Honeymoon, Have His Carcase and Strong Poison, in that running order. But I have a longtsanding soft spot for the Tailors, too - it inspired me to take up church bellringing at fourteen, and has ingrained in me a deep-seated pull towards the flat waterlands of the East Anglian fens - where I now live! And I think it's The Nine Tailors in which Peter begins his lifelong quest to collect clergymen, isn't it? The Rev Theodore Venables is a very fine specimen.


I agree with Susan E about the kindle and it's one of the faults with the eletronic books. I am so glad that I read the paper version this time because I do flip backwards and forwards. Loosing my way with the plot is okay I got caught up with the atmosphere of the time and place, when things seemed to be so much simpler.

I read the whole series years ago so it was nice to revisit Lord Peter and now I rather think that I will like to take the time to work my way through the whole series again. Thanks for the suggestions and I will also look out for Jill Paton Walsh as well.

adele geras

I didn't have time to re read the book for this discussion but have been fascinated by the comments. Loved it when I did read it as a teenager and didn't have a problem with the plot as I recall...but I was young then and things like that were what I took in my stride. Nowadays, I do get a bit confused sometimes but I also always TRY and sort it out! Couldn't read and enjoy a thriller where I didn't follow the plot. And I doo love the Fens etc and the whole landscape. Glad to be a Fen immigrant!

Rosy T

I've enjoyed the JPW follow-ups, but must admit I fund The Attenbury Emeralds rather... diffuse, shall we say? I suspect it's only a treat for people who are already Harriet-and-Peter nerds.

(Loved your re-reading of the Tailors, Karen, and have really enjoyed all the discussion and comment. A real nostalgia-fest.)

Puffin Patchwork

This is my first ever comment on a book blog, and I could only get it to work by using facebook, so apologies for the strange name, that's my "work" identity!
I've been reading the blog for a while, but couldn't resist joining in with this great book.
I read The Nine Tailors about 20 years ago, but haven't read many DLS books, as I have several of the BBC radio adaptations. I often listen to them while decorating, so the jaunty title music always makes me imagine the smell of emulsion paint! I decided to really immerse myself in The Nine Tailors by reading the book and listening to the radio version at the same time. (Keeping the book just ahead of the dramatisation.) This helped a lot with the complications of the plot, using the radio drama for revision. Doing this reminded me that, excellent though the radio versions are, you miss out on much of the wonderful description and detail of the book. So now I must read all the others.
I read all the golden age mysteries I can get my hands on, including contemporary authors whose mysteries are set in that period. I've enjoyed the Jill Paton Walsh books so far, although haven't read The Attenbury Emeralds yet.
I would be in the camp of those who like lots of scene-setting detail and atmosphere. I could do without the murder to be honest! It's the characters and settings that I enjoy. That leads to your next question, and I definitely don't want to read about unrelieved grim situations and nasty people. I want to like the characters and enjoy the background. And I'm afraid I all too often let the plot wash over me and don't even try to solve the mystery. I often re-read and still don't know who the murderer is till the end!

Claire said......

Interesting that Nine Tailors has provoked such a big and quite diverse response. I'll give the "wash over me" method a try, be a bit more relaxed and not pursue clues relentlessly! I think the language, characters argument is irrelevant and that we have to read it as a period piece. Testament to the great writing that DLS is still so appreciated. I wonder which of current thrillers will be being read in 80/90 years time. I can't think of any except John Le Carre. Most would now be read and quickly consigned to the charity shops. Their shelves are full of them. Thank you again Cornflower. I'm off to purchase a good old fashioned paper copy of Gaudy Night

B R Wombat

This has been a fascinating discussion, covering so many topics. I agree with others that you can't beat a dead tree book for easy casting back to check details. I love my Kindle but this is just one of the reasons that I reckon DTBs will never really die.


I was definitely in the 'let it all wash over me camp' as I had the rare treat of reading it in a sitting while curling on the sofa with a poorly daughter. I hadn't read this particular DLS before and I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in her world.


Lovely of you to comment! Thanks so much.


The Bells:
This detail reminded me a little of the poetry in 'Possession'. If you like the book, it's effortless to read all of it. if you are struggling, it's better to skip it.

Congenial Plot:
I dont mind if the plot is pleasant or dark. This blog has helped me realise that I need to feel drawn to one of the characters, if I am to enjoy a book. The ambiance is not so important for me.

Opaque Plot:
I love plots that are opaque. The denser the mists, the better (à la Magus). Being force fed all the information about what someone is thinking or which fact you should be studying leaves not enough space for imagination.

OK Bunter is good. But for my next car-in-the-ditch, I want a motor whose back axle can be fixed by a blacksmith!


I am a big fan of DLS and have several of the audiobooks read by Ian Carmichael, which are wonderful car fodder. I agree with the comment above that Harriet makes the books better, and I have enjoyed a recent re-read of the Harriet novels AND of the JPWalsh sequels. I felt that Thrones, Dominations was excellent, Presumption on par with most of the others, and Lady Attenbury's Emeralds disappointing on several fronts, most notably Harriet's and Hope Bunter's near-disappearance as interesting characters.

Might be interesting to read a few more classic crime novels: Ngaio Marsh is one of my favorites, and there is that woman. . . I think her last name is Christie? But a selection of golden oldies might be fun as then people could compare.


I just wanted to add a comment about using a kindle and how to make it easier to refer back. I now use the bookmark facility a lot more so that I can store pages where I think I might want to look back to the introduction of a character or an event. I also use the note making a lot more too. I find this bookmarking especially useful where there are lots of footnotes and I bookmark the one I am on and then remove it as I get to the next one.
It is only a matter of getting used to the technology. To be honest I love both books and technology (we wouldn't be here chatting without it!) and think there is a place for both. If I am collecting a series I will get a hardback, if it is something I know will just be read once I'll read it on kindle or ipad. Obviously some books like cookery or gardening are going to be nicer in hard copy but popular reads I would have bought in paperback I now read on an electronic device.
Another great advantage to e-reading is that (and I don't have an eyesight problem) you can enlarge the print so much and I have noticed that I can read at twice the rate on an e-reader which is great when you want to get through a pile of to-be-reads.
I feel resistence to technology is futile and think mostly it works out for the better even though it is sad when we loose something wonderful, such as hand- written letters but what a joy they are when we do get them. Will it be the same with hard copy books?

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