Sunday, February 27, 2022

Fortnightly Book, February 27

 In 1932, Dorothy Sayers was attempting to pull together a detective story involving Lord Peter and the change-ringing of church bells, but was having difficulty getting all the technical information she needed. As she had deadlines with her publisher that she was in danger of not meeting, she set it aside briefly and rush-wrote a Lord Peter novel that was easier to throw together. She set it in an advertising agency because she knew that context well, having worked in the business up to 1931. This rushed novel was published in 1933 under the title, Murder Must Advertise, and it was a hit. (The change-ringing novel, The Nine Tailors, was published the next year.)

Sayers never really liked the book. It had been thrown together to fulfill a contractual obligation, she had not much time to research certain facets of the crime, she thought it dubious in its realism, and, of course, the entire time she had been writing it, she had been hoping to get back to the book she really wanted to write. Nonetheless, it has always been one of the most popular Lord Peter novels; while not as technically brilliant as the book it temporarily put on hold, it is generally seen as delivering exactly what people like most about a detective story. And it is, of course, the next fortnightly book.