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Review: Clouds of Witness, by Dorothy Sayers


Pages: 279

Original date of publication: 1926

My edition: 1995 (Harper)

Why I decided to read: had a hankering for more Dorothy Sayers one morning

How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2010

Clouds of Witness is one of Dorothy Sayers’s earlier Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. It’s definitely not as good as Murder Must Advertise, or The Nine Tailors, but it certainly shows some promise.

Having just spent time abroad in Corsica, Lord Peter Wimsey returns to find that his brother Gerald, the Duke of Denver, has been accused of the murder of one of his houseguests at Riddlesdale Lodge, a house rented for the hunting season. The murdered man was Lord Peter and the Duke’s brother-in-law-to-be—so Lord Peter intervenes in what promises to be a sticky mess. It turns out that a lot of people are guilty of a lot of things, and it’s up to Wimsey to sort things out. What I love about this book is that you know who didn’t do it—the fun is in figuring out who did.

This book (the second Sayers wrote about Lord Peter, actually) isn’t as strong as some of her later books, but it’s pretty good nonetheless. The identification of the murderer isn’t as important here, though, as is a major twist that’s revealed near the end. Lord Peter himself, with his unusual manner of speaking and varied pursuits, is an endearing character, and it’s easy to see why Peter has inspired many other gentleman-detectives in fiction (Inspector Linley from Elizabeth George’s books). I thought that Lady Mary was one of the weaker characters (way too many dramatics for me). Clouds of Witness may be the second book in this series (after Whose Body?), but if you’re new to the series, you may want to start with this one—there’s a lot more character development, as well as the introduction of some characters who make recurring appearances throughout the series.

Comments

Nymeth said…
I keep hearing the early Lord Peter books aren't as good as the later ones, but I want to read them all just because I love her characters so much.
Hannah Stoneham said…
I have got this one, but have never read it - i enjoyed the Nine Tailors very much. Thanks for an interesting review!

Hannah

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