Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers

Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. SayersMurder Must Advertise (Lord Peter Wimsey #10) by Dorothy L. Sayers
Published: Harper Collins (1933), Hardcover, 344pg
Source: Library
Genres: Fiction, Mystery

When ad man Victor Dean falls down the stairs in the offices of Pym's Publicity, a respectable London advertising agency, it looks like an accident. Then Lord Peter Wimsey is called in, and he soon discovers there's more to copywriting than meets the eye. A bit of cocaine, a hint of blackmail, and some wanton women can be read between the lines. And then there is the brutal succession of murders -- 5 of them -- each one a fixed fee for advertising a deadly secret. (from Goodreads)

Dorothy L. Sayers is very sarcastic in this book– in a terrific way! It’s the funniest Lord Peter book I’ve read so far, actually. There’s a lot of good stuff about advertising and why it’s mildly-to-heavily evil, wonderful characters inside the advertising agency (my favorite are the typists), and a whole heap of DLS’ bitingly clever sentences. Usually she sprinkles them throughout her books, a dash here, a pinch there, but in Murder Must Advertise they’re all stuck together in one big glorious everlasting gobstopper.

There’s also some great character moments with Lord Peter himself– like when he gets his elbow knocked during a game of cricket and goes into Hulk mode. He also does some amazing (and slightly scary) things with disguises– he can fit himself so well into any kind of role that it made me realize JUST how formidable an enemy he could be to someone. It’s not easy to pin down someone who’s constantly presenting a front that’s a twist or two away from their real insides, especially when they make it look so easy. Lord Peter-the-drug-dealer/criminal was particularly shocking (if that’s the correct word) because it was a facet of his character I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t know he could be consistently scary for so long! Before, in other books, it was always just a burst of scary followed by some buffoonery. Here, it’s much more sustained. It was a very interesting experience for me, tbh.

The humor, plus the various sideplots and character thingies, kept me from being annoyed at how drawn out the mystery itself was.

It’s so SLOW. It’s like DLS stretched it out so she could stick the other stuff in around it. Any other book and I’d have DNF’d it (or skipped to the end) but DLS somehow still pulled me through it. I think it was because the other stuff was so GOOD, it almost let me ignore the stuff I wasn’t enjoying all that much.

According to the back cover, Murder Must Advertise is one of Dorothy L. Sayers’ most famous and well-loved books, and I can see why, despite the slow-as-hell mystery development. I may not have been enamoured with the mystery part, but I DID love the rest of it! It’s rekindled my desire to read more interwar mysteries, too. Always a good thing, I think!

Read: March 28-30, 2013

I also had a fun time finding weird words and then looking up the meanings. Example! Chrononhotonthologos1 and Aldiborontiphoscophornio2.


  1. a satirical play by the English poet and songwriter Henry Carey from 1734, according to Wikipedia.
  2. a character from Chrononhotonthologos. Lord P. can spell both those things no problem, btw.

2 thoughts on “Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers”

  1. I like this one because it is nice to see Peter having other stuff going on besides JUST HARRIET. It made me like him better in the intervening years between Strong Poison and Gaudy Night. Like, he’s not just spending his time proposing to Harriet over and over.

    1. I have no info whatsoever about chronology so I didn’t even realize this was set between Strong Poison and Gaudy Night. Thank goodness he’s NOT just following Harriet around! That’d be super creepy.

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