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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.


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.
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...

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