The most enjoyable sections are those set within an advertising agency, Pym s Publicity, where Lord Peter Wimsey takes up a job, posing as his lookalike cousin, Death Bredon his own middle names apparently Death can be pronounced Deeth He has been called in to investigate following the mysterious death of a previous employee who fell down the stairs and cracked his skull However, the agency bosses prefer him to be incognito Sayers herself worked in an agency for years and it s plain she knows exactly what she is portraying Anybody who has worked in a vaguely similar environment, as I have in local newspapers and marketing, will recognise a lot of the characters and situations However, at times all the detail does slow the story down a lot and the humour gets a bit repetitive There are a few advertising in jokes which I recognised after recently reading a Sayers biography, such as references to her Guinness is good for you slogan and the Colmans Mustard Club.
Unfortunately, however, large chunks of the book are set amid disreputable bright young things , and I found these sequences far less convincing I ll sayabout this aspect in spoiler tags It s also hard to believe that so many people can be fooled by Wimsey s dual identity, which sounds about as convincing as Superman being Clark Kent view spoiler The bright young things storyline sees the mystery mixed up with a fiendish dope ring, which is not very believably portrayed, putting it mildly The gang is laughable rather than scary, as with a gang of burglars in one of Sayers short stories Tendencies in one or two previous books for women to throw themselves at Wimsey are also played up here, with two young women falling for his charms apparently he looks incredibly handsome in a Harlequin mask I couldn t quite believe in Peter spending every night driving around with spoilt socialite Dian, but somehow managing not to take any cocaine, get sexually involved or even take off his mask His lack of concern at Dian s murder also leaves a bad taste hide spoiler I don t think I appreciate Dorothy Sayers as much as I should Really, this is probably a 4 star book that I ve given only 3, because I felt she got away from the murder solving a bit too much I should be enjoying her long asides into the advertising world and the game of cricket I should be impressed by the seriousness in which she handles drugs and death It s all quite masterful and ahead of her time I mean to say, her craft and characters aremature than her contemporaries Perhaps I ve been too inured by the short, punchy detective fiction of many other authors of the genre Honestly, Murder Must Advertise is truly a good read I m not sure I m a deserving reader though.
An absolute delight I am increasingly of the opinion that Dorothy Sayers is the finest mystery serial writer of well, I can t say all time, having only read two or three of her peers, but VERY FINE INDEED Sayers doesn t just write good mysteries, she writes good novels One might almost mistake Murder Must Advertise for a novel about an ad firm and brilliantly done at that that happens to concern a murder, rather than the other way around, and I don t say that at the expense of the mystery itself.
One of Sayers s many likeable qualities is that she never comes off as an innocent, even in books where the plot turns on the interpretation of a will and the characters are frequently known to say, Oh Dear me Rather I do say Shocking, what I enjoyed Unnatural Death and adored The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, but one must be honest Sayers s astonishing wit, the seeming tameness of some of its objects regardless, always betrays a penetrating understanding of human mischief And in this novel, with its sex and cocaine, the innuendos are keener andhilarious than ever Not that she places undue reliance on innuendos, either.
Of Lord Peter Wimsey, I do occasionally think to myself, I wish there was something he couldn t do But those moments pass quickly and are soon forgotten in an onslaught of Sayers s pitch perfect dialogue.
Naturally, the plot is clever and well integrated Nothing hugely astonishing, but one hardly cares there are enough surprises throughout to keep up the pace And as yet another sign of Sayers s rare and intelligent style, the climax contains an unusual solemn, sad nod to human dignity.
This is the best Wimsey book A marvelously venomous send up of the advertising world, still sickeningly applicable today, it has lots of biting wit and some compassion as well for those caught up in this silly little world Wimsey s incarnations heread man, himself, evil man about town, and outstanding cricketerare fascinating One is so intrigued with the book that one doesn t notice that Wimsey can be, and sometimes is, soporifically perfect Nevertheless, for fans of the literate mystery, this is a delight.
ETA The occasional but all too casual bigotry does jar on the nerves.
Published in 1933, much of this novel is set within a world that author, Dorothy L Sayers, knew well that of an advertising agency, in which she herself worked Lord Peter Wimsey is masquerading as plain Death pronounced Deeth Bredon at Pym s Publicity having been called in my Mr Pym after the suspicious death of Mr Victor Dean, who broke his neck after falling down a staircase.
Mr Bredon finds himself occupying Mr Dean s room and, before long, is heavily involved in all aspects of office gossip I have to admit that the parts of this novel I enjoyed most are set within Pym s Publicity, but the story also features a group of Bright Young Things that Mr Dean was attracted by One of these smart set was the attractive, but rather sinister, Dian de Momerie These parts of the storyline worked less well for me, but thankfully most of the book is set within the walls of Pym s with Lord Peter doing a salaried job for the first time Of course, he does it very well, as we would expect, as well as solving the mystery.
Overall, this is an enjoyable read Lord Peter is centre stage throughout although Parker does feature and he has dinner although we not privy to this meeting with Harriet once I loved the satirical look at advertising and the office setting was very enjoyable I am looking forward to reading on in this wonderful, Golden Age, series If you do enjoy Golden Age mysteries, then these are some of the very best in the genre.
All I really remembered about this book was that it made me laugh what I didn t remember was it also has teeth.
A peter Wimsey mystery, wherein Peter goes undercover in an ad agency, and then there are a lot of shenanigans, and also bad puns, and a climactic cricket match that made me snigger to myself for ten minutes straight, much to the consternation of my morning train seatmate This is, incidentally, a pretty good place to start with Peter Wimsey Not the chronological beginning of the series, but it s one of the best, and it sets you up nicely to read forward or back without ruining your first Wimsey on, say, the one with all the goddamn train schedules Anyway, so it s thoroughly amusing, and peter capers here and there, declaiming and punning and being horrible and being grand Also solving a murder, and tripping into a viper s nest of crime, like he does.
But under that is a tense, frantically unhappy book About the ad game and the life game buy this, that ll solve your problems, now buy that, snort this line of cocaine, try that dangerous stunt, run faster, work harder,why aren t you happy yet What do you mean you came to a bitter end along the way And if that weren t enough, also a pointed meditation on a particular stripe of British classism God damn, when she was good, no one could touch Sayers There s this bit where one character explains to another how there s a cultural divide in the office between the Oxbridge chaps and the rest of them How the blokes who went to, like, Manchester, will get all earnest and upset and froth at the mouth about metaphysics, and one of the Oxbridge guys will come along and just make a bad pun at them and ask why they can t take a joke And I was like, Ahahaha, Dorothy Sayers Your Oxbridge chaps are hipsters.
Murder Must Advertise, rather like Gaudy Night, isn t a mystery novel, but a novel containing a mystery It s reminiscent of Connie Willis and To Say Nothing of the Dog in that regard, meaning this novel feels muchhuman than the standard mystery But while Willis deals with cats and seances and hilarious excursions, Sayers discusses death and lies and hoodwinking the less well off masses This is a murder mystery, so of course it s darker Which is not to say it s so dark that I couldn t read it see Darkness Take My Hand but that it s dark enough not only to tell the truth about consumerism, but to highlight how underhand and manufactured that truth is There s enough that s discomfiting about human nature in this novel that you understand why Lord Peter can t get past his PTSD Besides for, you know, the war There s a quietly horrifying bit right at the end that s almost worse than all the ways the firm earnestly sits down to figure out how to getwomen smoking cigarettes, because then they ll have succeeded as advertisers I will say that the way Sayers skewers advertising is so precise, so scathing, it never allowed me to forget that I was reading a story written by someone who worked in advertising It s also funny, though The way Sayers allows you to guess what her game is from the start the way she doesn t drag it on too long the number of times Peter almost gives himself away the cricket game This isn t doom and gloom but a really well rounded story The murder isn t an afterthought, but it s also not the primary focus it s woven into the story, but it isn t solely the story This is so good, I didn t miss Harriet, which is a shocker.
Where I got the book purchased from The Book Depository I m absolutely sure I had the 70s NEL edition once upon a time, but you know how it is with really good books They grow legs and walk away.
Quickie story roundup Lord Peter Wimsey, for the first time in his life, is pulling in a salary of 4 a week Adopting the persona of Mr Death Bredon, he becomes a copywriter in the advertising firm Pym s Publicity to investigate the mysterious death of one Victor Dean, and discovers that Dean s death is the tip of an iceberg which affects thousands of lives all over London.
Dorothy L Sayers worked in an advertising firm for seven years, and engineering Lord Peter into a job in the environment she knew so well was a gold plated stroke of genius By the time she wrote Murder Must Advertise, her copywriting days were three or four years behind her but clearly still burned into her memory and affections During those years she had been through heartbreak and the carefully concealed birth of an illegitimate child, and there is an edge to her descriptions of Pym s despite the resolutely jolly tone of many of the scenes, although she is careful to direct her cynicism at the practice of advertising in general It is my theory that the lanky, clever, university educated Miss Meteyard cool and sardonic yet knowing is a self portrait, DLS in her earlier days, even as Harriet Vane is the embittered post heartbreak self.
I have said before that every Wimsey novel has a tone quite unlike the others What strikes me about this one is that the chorus of London voices almost makes Lord Peter take second place From society cocktail parties to cricket to Covent Garden, this is a loving portrait of Sayers real world wrapped around an ingeniously plotted mystery with plenty of twists and reveals It paves the way for the realism Sayers achieves in Gaudy Night whereas The Nine Tailors, her next novel, is a throwback to an earlier style but none the worse for that.
I ve heard many people say that Murder Must Advertise is their favorite Sayers novel, and I can see why The drawbacks for me were the cricket match I never did learn the game, despite having grown up in England and Lady Mary Parker s dreary domesticity when she d been such a promising character And I believe I stumbled across a terrific mistake in chapter 18 see my updates But hey, DLS almost certainly spotted it too at some point in her life, and no doubt laughed it off She was one of the most human of writers, and her fans love her for it.
Unfortunately this long anticipated read wasn t it.
The start of this book is full of wonderfully witty quotable quotes about the advertising world Bredon shuddered I think this is an awfully immoral job of ours, I do, really Think how we spoil the digestions of the public Ah, yes but think how earnestly we strive to put them right again We undermine em with one hand and build em with the other The vitamins we destroy in the canning, we restore in Revito, the roughage we remove from Peabody s Piper Parritch we make into a package and market as Bunbury s Breakfast Bran the stomachs we ruin with Pompayne, we reline with Peplets to aid digestion and by forcing the damn foll public to pay twice over once to have its food emasculated and once to have the vitality put back again, we keep the wheels of commerce turning and give employment to thousands including you and meI thought the way Lord Peter was introduced into the story was very clever Surprisingly, the cricket scenes were very entertaining I m a life long cricket hater Background information about the 30 s was very good Sayers makes the times breathe.
It s just that the murder mystery itself isn t very good further in, bits of the story drag A pity but a Sayers book is never a waste of time for me.
When Ad Man Victor Dean Falls Down The Stairs In The Offices Of Pym S Publicity, A Respectable London Advertising Agency, It Looks Like An Accident Then Lord Peter Wimsey Is Called In, And He Soon Discovers There S To Copywriting Than Meets The Eye A Bit Of Cocaine, A Hint Of Blackmail, And Some Wanton Women Can Be read Between The Lines And Then There Is The Brutal Succession Of MurdersOf Them Each One A Fixed Fee For Advertising A Deadly Secret