Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers: B

murderadvertiseFrom the back cover:
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—five of them—each one a fixed fee for advertising a deadly secret.

Murder Must Advertise finds Lord Peter Wimsey infiltrating an advertising agency and investigating whether a man was killed for knowing too much. He assumes the identity of his (fictional) disreputable cousin, Death Bredon, for the purpose and, in the course of his probe, also dons the costume of a harlequin in an attempt to extract information from a notoriously drug-addled woman. Some of the story is told from the perspectives of outsiders who encounter Peter in these guises, paving the way for long entries about office squabbles and excruciatingly detailed passages about cricket matches (in which Lord Peter saves the day, of course). Sayers also works in a good deal of criticism of the advertising profession and how it preys on the poor by purporting to offer them luxury at an affordable price.

This mystery isn’t bad, but something about it didn’t click with me. I think the problem is that I’m used to knowing more about the case going in, what Peter is thinking, that sort of thing. This time his actions are more mysterious, particularly as regards his aims with the whole harlequin masquerade, and sometimes lost me a bit. Too, though the latter half of the book seems to focus more on the drug trade issue (I believe that by this point Peter already had the murderer pegged), in the end the resulotion to the drug plot occurs entirely off camera and the identity of the much sought-after kingpin turns out to be rather disappointing.

Maybe the real problem is that I miss the repartee between Peter and Harriet. Oh well, only one more to go before Gaudy Night!

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