by Dorothy Sayers
397 pages (trade paperback)
In The Nine Tailors, Lord Peter Wimsey visits a small village called Fenchurch St. Paul. A mystery is afoot, of course. The bells, to whom the title refers, play a major role that I didn't "get" until the second last page of the book, and even then I didn't truly appreciate their significance to the theme. Apparently this is part of a linked series, in which case--oops. But Sayers did not click for me on several levels, so I don't think it would have made a difference.
I want to say the style is hard-boiled noir--it is so very British--but the murder is not as important as in typical noir pieces. In fact, the mystery itself is secondary to the process of solving said mystery. This is a very different book from the typical historical mysteries, dense with assumptions of knowledge like how a church bell-tower is structured. And the plot is simply not compelling to me, although I admire Sayer's command of plotting and can see why others appreciate her so much. She is dissimilar to, yet much the same as, Agatha Christie; Christie also plots complexly but manages to make them more accessible--both ouvres have a distinctly British feel that I enjoy on a meta level but cannot make up for lack of plot or character engagement.
Major ROT13 spoilers: Fb gur oryyf xvyyrq Qrnpba--vf gung npghnyyl cbffvoyr? V jnfa'g njner gung ivoengvbaf/unezbal pbhyq or sngny. Vg svgf cresrpgyl jvgu gur erfg bs gur cybg ohg V unir gebhoyr oryvrivat va gur cynhfvovyvgl bs npghnyyl qlvat sebz oryy-evatvat. Jrveq.
In conclusion, an excellent and deep piece of literature, though not one that I particularly care to read again. The ending is cool in a fun-fact kind of way but, unless you're a true mystery fan, not worth plodding through 400 pages of labyrinthe story to find out. YMMV, as I know many on my flist will disagree vehemently in comments (I look forward to the discussion!).
This novel was slow to get going, but overall it's decent. I have to say that the romantic development is a little weak; you basically get some interaction, Adelia being suspicious, a confession, and BAM. They're in love. On the other hand, characters like King Henry II are delightful. Henry manages to save Adelia from the scourge, and the church people can't even protest. The climax is awesome, very suspenseful. I think that the ending could have worked either way; Franklin's method was unexpected but still a Happily Ever After so I'll take it. The decision to take the story that direction was risky, different, and original. I applaud her for it!
And now, a collection of short stories in the series, which I'm sure everyone is tired of hearing about by now. Saylor's shorts possess most of the pros of his novels without many of the cons (chiefly, clunky blocks of setting description). While some of the stories were a bit too summarized, others certainly made me smile.
Before I forget about my brilliant idea, I'll debut it. I'm going to catalogue all the books in my library bag, and give a mini-review of each. (Since I can't be bothered to write a full-length review and yet I feel bad about doing so...)
1. Unexpected Magic by Diana Wynne Jones - interesting stories, some are better than others. A worthwhile read, although definitely YA.
2. Geisha by Liz Dalby - the only nonfiction book this time around. It took me a long time to finish, but it's pretty engaging for nonfiction.
3. The Lord of Castle Black by Steven Brust - A great book, but the second one in a series of three so far, and I haven't read the first or third. There was a summary in the beginning, but the ending is inconclusive and as the library seems to only have this book... I didn't enjoy it as much as I wish I could have.
4. SPQR V: Saturnalia by John Maddox Roberts - Lots of references to IV, which was annoying. Otherwise, fast-paced and quick light reading.
5. Four for a Boy by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer - The fourth book in a series but the first one chronologically, so it wasn't too confusing. I'm putting the others on my reading list, but have no idea when I'll get to them.
6. Nekropolis by Maureen F. McHugh - A very nice character-driven literary SF. I'd like to see more of these, other than the ending on a symbol part. I really disliked endings that don't resolve the plot.
And two more that I'm in the middle of reading, Imperium and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. On the latter, I'm going to be a bit ranty; the essays vary between mildly interesting, horrendously boring, and quite entertaining.