Murder Must Advertise

related topics
{film, series, show}
{son, year, death}
{company, market, business}
{law, state, case}
{work, book, publish}
{black, white, people}
{@card@, make, design}
{group, member, jewish}

Murder Must Advertise is a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery novel by Dorothy L. Sayers, published in 1933.

Most of the action takes place in an advertising agency, a setting with which Sayers was very familiar. One of her advertising colleagues, Bobby Bevan, was the inspiration for the character Mr Ingleby. [1]


Plot introduction

Lord Peter Wimsey takes up employment as a copywriter for an advertising agency in order to discover more about the recent mysterious death of one of the employees. In the process he discovers much of the convoluted private lives of the other employees, as well as getting a feel for what it is like to work for a living. Eventually he traces a connection to a drug-smuggling operation, which he proceeds to infiltrate and uncover. Wimsey makes the connection between the drug-smugglers and the employee who has become their tool and has responded to a blackmail threat with murder.

Plot summary

Under the pseudonym of "Death Bredon" (actually his middle names), Wimsey accepts an offer from the owners of Pym's Publicity, Ltd., a light disguise for S.H. Bensons, a very conservative firm, to investigate a mystery and avert a scandal. Copywriter Victor Dean has died in a fall down the spiral iron office staircase, a real feature derived from Pym's, but left a half-finished letter to the management hinting that something potentially scandalous is going on at Pym's. from Wimsey takes over Dean's office and learns his trade whilst pursuing his investigations. He discovers a talent for copywriting and promotion, and produces a campaign which will become one of the firm's most successful. He also discovers that the "scandal" involves a major drugs ring, the subject of an investigation by his friend Inspector Parker, which is making ingenious use of a regular newspaper advert supplied by Pym's. A copywriter, Tallboy, is disclosing the initial letter of each week's advert to the gang in advance of publication. The gang use this letter to determine the pub where they will distribute drugs to their dealers that week, and the dealers use the advert to find their way there - there is no incriminating contact between the parties. Tallboy was sucked in innocently by his need for money, but is now fatally implicated, and was being blackmailed by Dean. Dean's death was murder disguised as an accident: he was shot by a desperate Tallboy with a catapult as he descended the dangerous staircase.

Wimsey plays several roles: by day he is Bredon, a distant and disreputable Wimsey cousin forced to work for a living; by night he is himself. He also plays a mysterious masked harlequin, Bredon's alter ego, to penetrate the London drug scene, and in this guise courts the dissolute socialite girlfriend of the gang leader to gain information. As he gets closer to the truth there are several murders and Wimsey's own safety is threatened, but in the end it is Tallboy who is left facing ruin and disgrace as the net closes in. He goes to Wimsey, who offers him a way to save his honour and shield his family from disgrace, and Tallboy leaves his flat in the full knowledge that gang members are waiting outside to stage an "accident" which will result in his death.

Literary significance and criticism

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