Friday, May 30, 2008

Review: Murder Must Advertise, by Dorothy Sayers

When a young advertising copywriter tumbles down a steep flight of stairs, the coroner deems his death an unfortunate accident. Mr. Pym, of Pym’s Publicity, suspects otherwise, and calls in Lord Peter Wimsey to investigate the case undercover as his badly-behaved “cousin,” Mr. Death Bredon. It turns out that the death of the copywriter is only a small part of the mystery, as Wimsey finds himself embroiled in the complicated machinations of a cocaine smuggling ring. What does Pym’s Publicity have to do with it all?

Dorothy Sayers worked as a copywriter at an advertising agency from 1921-1933, helped create the Guinness ads that are sometime seen today, and is credited with inventing the slogan, “it pays to advertise.” So Sayers knew her stuff, and it shows (she even goes into detail about what copy is acceptable and unacceptable in terms of legal repercussions).

There are quite a few characters to keep track of, and it’s nearly impossible for the reader to figure out who’s behind it all. There’s a lot more to this book than advertising and cocaine, though—there’s also a few wanton women and some blackmail to spice things up a bit. The characters are witty, varied, and memorable, and the plot doesn’t overwhelm. Definitely a great place to start reading Sayers’s work if you haven’t read her work before.
Also reviewed by: Presenting Lenore


Eva said...

This is one of my favourite Wimseys!! Especially that cricket scene...I just loved it. :)

Lenore said...

Ugh...I hated the cricket scene. Maybe if I had been more into Wimsey, I would have liked the book more.

Katherine said...

Its amazing how differently people can feel about the book... although I liked the book overall, I too was kind of bored by the cricket scene.


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