Man About Town

Fierce, I’d hit it, etc. Mysteries are the best comfort reading, especially on stormy days. And I think I love Wimsey best of all, after Sherlock Holmes.

Murder Must Advertise is a wry commentary on the inherent ridiculousness of the advertising business, and how people twist themselves into a state for ten words’ worth of ad copy. Dorothy L. Sayers really uses her experience in the business to great effect, articulating how frantic and potentially soul-crushing the job is. Add a little business about cocaine trafficking and you have a plot that’s surprisingly modern and gritty for a Golden Age Mystery.

First, how much do I love the setting? Wimsey makes me wish I’m a 1930’s copy writer in London. The tempo of office life, from the gossipy typists to the ornery layout artists, rings true. I laughed at the different office shenanigans, which included office-bonding in the form of a rousing cricket match! Not that I can tell whether a cricket game is rousing or not.

Sayers’ prose is always brisk and witty. She’s great at creating sharply drawn characters; even the minor ones have distinct personalities and speech patterns. My favourite this time is Ginger Joe, an errand boy and ~assistant detective~ to Wimsey. The subplot about the catapult was pretty great, not to mention it provided a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor about unrealistic mystery novels and detectives. IC WAT U DID THAR, DOROTHY L. SAYERS.

The main plot of the dope-dealing tied with a murder was also very engaging. I like how much Inspector Parker was involved in the story. What a studmuffin. *_*

Aside from the plot, the best thing about Wimsey novels is the characterization of Peter Wimsey himself. Sure, he’s always the superficial quick-tongued dilettante, but you actually see him learning and changing throughout the book. Take ad-writing, for instance. At first he was, “I’m in over my head with earning my honest day’s work, how gauche and middle class, lol.” Then he ended up planning the single most expensive and successful ad campaign for a cigarette brand in England. I laughed and laughed.

And I guess that’s the thing that made this story more compelling to me than the other Wimsey mysteries. It’s the juxtaposition of his effete lifestyle and the 9 to 5 job he had to do as an undercover. There are also good insights about how potentially harmful dishonesty in ads are. Like putting up billboards with doctors recommending cigarettes.

If there was ever a thing that threw me off, it’s the way the POV keeps jumping around. It’s my own peeve though, and it did serve the story well. The parts about the dope-dealers can also get confusing and tedious at times, but the pace picks up at the end.


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