Cover of Murder Must Advertise

Murder Must Advertise
Dorothy L. Sayers
256 pages
published in 1933

I first read Murder Must Advertise in 2000, on the recommendation of a friend who had lent me her copy. As an introduction to the Lord Peter series, Murder Must Advertise works surprisingly well. It is perhaps even the best introduction to the series you could get, as it was written when Dorothy Sayers was at the peak of her writing. With this novel, you get the best of the Lord Peter series and unlike most of her later Lord Peter novels, this one does not require any knowledge of earlier stories.

the plot of Murder Must Advertise revolves around two mysteries. The first is the sudden death of a copywriter of Pym's Advertising Agency. Victor Dean died because he tripped on the iron spiral staircase that had caused accidents before. There would be no mystery surrounding his death had his sister not found a letter addressed to his employer hinting at dark doings at the agency. Which is what brings Lord Peter there, to work undercover as a new copywriter, Death Bredon.

The second mystery is the one that keeps Peter's brother in law, Chief-Inspector Parker of Scotland Yard, busy. How do the dope addicts of London get their dope? Not even the dope peddlers themselves know and everytime somebody higher in the supply chain is willing to talk or on the point of being arrested, they're killed.

These two mysteries seem to intersect in Victor Dean, who apparantely found something sinister at Pym's Agency and who several months before his death, also hung out with one of the more notorious dope crowds. It's up to Peter to find the connection and to find out if Dean was murdered and if so, how and by whom.

What makes Murder Must Advertise more than just an entertaining detective story is the extended look at the world of a advertising agency it offers. If I'm not mistaken, Dorothy Sayers herself used to work for one and her knowledge certainly is on display here. It might just be me, but I found the incidentals of the life at the agency much more interesting than the real plot. Some of it will be familair to anybody who, like me, has worked in a big office and some of it is charmingly dated.

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Webpage created 02-10-2004, last updated 07-10-2004
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