Skip to main content

Review: The Five Red Herrings, by Dorothy L. Sayers


Pages: 354
Original date of publication: 1931
My edition: 2006 (Harper Torch)
Why I decided to read: I’m trying to read all of the Lord Peter mysteries in order of publication date


I enjoy Dorothy Sayers’s mysteries, I really do; but with the last couple that I’ve read, I just haven’t liked them quite as much as, say, Murder Must Advertise or The Nine Tailors (her two best, in my opinion, so reading them first was kind of like eating desert before dimmer).

The Five Red Herrings takes place in an artists’ community of Scotland, where Lord Peter is conveniently at hand to investigate the murder of an unpopular (of course) artist. All of the suspects in the case are artists; the key to this mystery is discovering who, since the culprit leads the detectives on the case on a wild goose chase half the time. I have to admit that I kind of got bored about halfway through; the mystery deals endlessly with timetables. Usually, I’m all about the small details that make up a really good murder; but the endless theorizing about who did what where and when got really, really tiring after a while.

Character development isn’t all that strong, either. In the last book, we met Harriet Vane, so I would have thought that she’d at least be mentioned—not so much in this book. Lord Peter Wimsey, however, is a shadow of his former self, and he fades into the background most of the time. And Bunter, his faithful sidekick, only gets a brief scene. To be honest, I just didn’t care all that much about the mystery or who committed the crime, so much so that I bailed on this book about 300 pages in.

Comments

Kerry said…
This is the one Lord Peter mystery I could never finish. Like you, I got totally mired in the timetables and just couldn't keep going. I dream of managing one day, so I can say I have read them all, but this isn't encouraging. :)

I agree that The Nine Tailors is one of her very best.

I hope you enjoy the others more.
Cozy in Texas said…
I have heard a lot about Dorothy Sayers, but have never read any of her books. Thanks for posting this.
Ann
Elizabeth said…
Like you, this is not my favorite Sayers. If you held a gun to my head and made me choose just one, it would probably be Murder Must Advertise. Or Gaudy Night. Or...
Elizabeth said…
Like you, this is not my favorite Sayers. If you held a gun to my head and made me choose just one, it would probably be Murder Must Advertise. Or Gaudy Night. Or...

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…