Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Five Red Herrings

The Five Red Herrings. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1931. HarperCollins. 325 pages.

If one lives in Galloway, one either fishes or paints. "Either" is perhaps misleading, for most of the painters are fishers also in their spare time. To be neither of these things is considered odd and almost eccentric. 

The Five Red Herrings is the seventh mystery starring Lord Peter Wimsey. Lord Peter is a character that I just love and adore. He's just one of my favorite, favorite, favorite characters ever. So I was so happy to read another mystery in this series.

In The Five Red Herrings, Lord Peter Wimsey is on vacation in Scotland. Though he neither paints or fishes, he is accepted--for the most part--by the community. It's hard to not like him, after all! Early in the novel--though I'm not sure if it's early in his holiday--a murder is committed. The "victim" is someone EVERYONE hates; threats against this guy were so common that they were hardly worth taking seriously. I mean Campbell, the victim, was just impossible to get along with. But now that he's dead, it is up to the police (the constables and detectives, etc.) to solve the crime. And since Lord Peter just happens to be very, very good at detecting, he offers to help them out.

There are six suspects--all artists. Hugh Farren, Henry Strachan, Matthew Gowan, Jock Graham, Michael Waters, and Ferguson. All had motive, all had opportunity. All of them are lying, all of them are hiding things from the police. Since there are so many suspects, since they all appear equally capable of committing the crime, it's just a matter of discerning the truth. Which theory--which plausible theory--is the truth? Which is most likely? Which uses all the clues that have been left behind?

Five Red Herrings is set in Scotland. And, for me, it was a delightful mystery.

Lord Peter Wimsey:

I was born looking foolish and every day in every way I am getting foolisher and foolisher. (52)

One of these days I shall write a book in which two men are seen to walk down a cul-de-sac, and there is a shot and one man is found murdered and the other runs away with a gun in his hand, and after twenty chapters stinking with red herrings, it turns out that the man with the gun did it after all. (114)

The essence of detection is secrecy. It has no business to be spectacular. But you can watch me if you like. (218)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kailana said...

One of these days I am going to give Sayers a try. I had one of her books out from the library a couple times, but just haven't got around to it.

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Faith said...

I adore Sayers, and I want to marry Lord Peter Wimsey. But this book I just couldn't get through. The dialect had me stumped.

Trish said...

I love that you added quotes. It sounds like a good mystery.