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.


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.
Ann Summerville said…
I have heard a lot about Dorothy Sayers, but have never read any of her books. Thanks for posting this.
Unknown 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...
Unknown 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

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 an old dotard, her third locks her up in the house for days and won't let her out; and the last is a fop who a…

Review: This Rough Magic, by Mary Stewart

Pages: 254Original date of publication: 1964My edition: 1964 (William Morrow)Why I decided to read: it was 90 degrees outside at the time and I decided it was time to read another book by a favorite authorHow I acquired my copy: from Susanna Kearsley, December 2009Sometimes, whether or not I decide to read a book depends on the weather. Mary Stewart’s books are best read on either very hot or very cold days; and since it was 90 degrees out one weekend a couple of weeks ago, I decided that this one would be perfect. And it was.This Rough Magic takes its title from The Tempest, a play from which this novel takes off. Lucy Waring is a struggling actress who comes to visit her sister on Corfu. One of her neighbors is a renowned actor who’s taken a bit of a sabbatical and his son, a musician with whom Lucy comes to blows at first. This Rough Magic is vintage Mary Stewart, with a murder or two, a mystery, romance, suspense, and lots of magic thrown in. Lucy is your typical Mary Stewart hero…

Review: Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith

Pages: 294
Original date of publication: 1963
My edition: 2010 (Harper Perennial)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Barnes and Noble, Phoenix, January 2011

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all-time favorite books and I’ve read it, oh, half a dozen times, so I was interested to see how Joy in the Morning would compare.

Set in the late 1920s, Joy in the Morning begins when Annie, aged 18, comes to a small Midwestern college town where her fiancée, Carl, is in law school. The novel opens with their marriage in the county courthouse, and follows the couple through their first year or so of marriage. It’s a struggle, because Carl and Annie are basically children themselves, for all the ways in which Carl tries to appear more adult-like.

Annie is endearing; she’s ignorant but a voracious reader, reading everything from Babbitt to War and Peace. Betty Smith’s novels are pretty autobiographical; Joy in the Morning is (unofficially) a kind of sequel to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—cert…