The Nine Tailors

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Stranded in the Fenland village of Fenchurch St. Paul on New Year’s Eve after a car accident, Wimsey helps ring a nine-hour peal of bells overnight when one of the ringers is stricken by influenza. Lady Thorpe, wife of the local squire, dies next morning and Wimsey hears how the Thorpe family has been blighted for 20 years by the unsolved theft of valuable emeralds from a house-guest by the butler and an accomplice. Both men were imprisoned, but the jewels were never recovered.

The art of change ringing is peculiar to the English, and, like most English peculiarities, unintelligible to the rest of the world. To the musical Belgian, for example, it appears that the proper thing to do with a carefully tuned ring of bells is to play a tune upon it. By the English campanologist, the playing of tunes is considered to be a childish game, only fit for foreigners; the proper use of bells is to work out mathematical permutations and combinations.

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The nine teller strokes from the belfry of an ancient country church toll out the death of an unknown man and call the famous Lord Peter Whimsey to investigate the good and evil that lurks in every person. Steeped in the atmosphere of a quiet parish in the strange, flat fen-country of East Anglia, this is a tale of suspense, character, and mood by an author critics and readers rate as one of the great masters of the mystery novel.


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