Book Review: ‘Murder Must Advertise’

This is as good a time as any to catch up on one’s reading. And if you like murder mysteries, you’ll probably love Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers, featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. He goes undercover in an advertising agency, posing as a junior copywriter as he tries to solve the crime.

To show you how much writers know, Dorothy Sayers considered this gem “not one of my better efforts.” We beg to differ.

The only problem with this story is that the background setting, the advertising agency, is more fascinating than the murder. I kept finding myself forgetting there was a murder to be solved, I was so intrigued by the actions and interactions in the agency. Sayers actually worked for an advertising agency for almost ten years, so she was writing about something she knew intimately. All these captivating characters! I could hardly wait to see what each of them would do next.

Advertising copywriters try to persuade people to buy things they may not really want, and do things that they may not want to do. Sort of like politics. How they go about it is an absorbing study in itself. It was so interesting, I didn’t want the book to end. Murder, schmurder–how do you get people to buy and smoke those not-really-all-that-good cigarettes?

I do love a good detective story, and the Wimsey series is classic, top of the line. As an interesting side note, Margery Allingham created her own aristocratic detective, Albert Campion, as a parody of Wimsey. Her books turned out to be so popular that they kept her busy writing them for many years. I like them almost as much as I like the Wimseys.

Books like these make time pass unnoticed, and pleasurably. It’s why they’re still popular today. If you need a nice distraction, you can’t do better than Murder Must Advertise.

2 comments on “Book Review: ‘Murder Must Advertise’

  1. What a valuable book review! Thanks, Lee. I will add these to my Bucket List. I am almost finished with “Still the Best Hope” by Dennis Prager (the end section is on E. Pluribus Unum and is really good). Next in line is Michael Shaara’s “The Killer Angels” about the Battle of Gettysburg. After reading Ron Cheroff’s “Grant,” the Civil War really interests me as never before.

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