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A must-read for fans of Agatha Christie's Poirot and Margery Allingham's Campion Mysteries, Lord Peter Wimsey is the immortal amateur sleuth created by Dorothy L Sayers. Lord Peter Wimsey could imagine the artist stepping back, the stagger, the fall, down to where the pointed rocks grinned like teeth.But was it an accident - or murder? Six members of the close-knit Gall A must-read for fans of Agatha Christie's Poirot and Margery Allingham's Campion Mysteries, Lord Peter Wimsey is the immortal amateur sleuth created by Dorothy L Sayers. Lord Peter Wimsey could imagine the artist stepping back, the stagger, the fall, down to where the pointed rocks grinned like teeth.But was it an accident - or murder? Six members of the close-knit Galloway artists' colony do not regret Campbell's death. Five of them are red herrings.


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A must-read for fans of Agatha Christie's Poirot and Margery Allingham's Campion Mysteries, Lord Peter Wimsey is the immortal amateur sleuth created by Dorothy L Sayers. Lord Peter Wimsey could imagine the artist stepping back, the stagger, the fall, down to where the pointed rocks grinned like teeth.But was it an accident - or murder? Six members of the close-knit Gall A must-read for fans of Agatha Christie's Poirot and Margery Allingham's Campion Mysteries, Lord Peter Wimsey is the immortal amateur sleuth created by Dorothy L Sayers. Lord Peter Wimsey could imagine the artist stepping back, the stagger, the fall, down to where the pointed rocks grinned like teeth.But was it an accident - or murder? Six members of the close-knit Galloway artists' colony do not regret Campbell's death. Five of them are red herrings.

30 review for The Five Red Herrings

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jaline

    In this, the seventh novel of the Lord Peter Wimsey series, Dorothy L. Sayers has surpassed herself. We have the murder of an artist who drinks too much, quarrels with everyone, and is obnoxious to all without bias. We have Lord Peter visiting friends in the neighbourhood who realizes right away that the murderer had to have been another artist. We have a police force with several interesting personnel who are all doing their part to discover which one (or combination) of the six suspects is the In this, the seventh novel of the Lord Peter Wimsey series, Dorothy L. Sayers has surpassed herself. We have the murder of an artist who drinks too much, quarrels with everyone, and is obnoxious to all without bias. We have Lord Peter visiting friends in the neighbourhood who realizes right away that the murderer had to have been another artist. We have a police force with several interesting personnel who are all doing their part to discover which one (or combination) of the six suspects is the guilty person(s). This novel takes place in Scotland and I thoroughly enjoyed the vernacular as the author was precise in writing as they spoke rather than as the words are spelled. I could hear their speech directly in my ear as I read, even though this was a written book, not audio. The descriptions of the countryside were also both fascinating and atmospheric in a way that helped me feel I was there. Since there was a lot of movement in this story, we were able to visit several places in Scotland during the course of this case’s development. During the last portion of the book, there is a meeting with the fiscal, and each of the police officers present their theory of who committed the crime – complete with the supporting evidence. By the time Lord Peter is to present his version it felt like it did at the beginning – who did this? – but with more arrows pointing at each person. Then, Lord Peter decides to re-enact the crime as he saw it with each of the police officers playing a role and those who didn’t have a role were there as witnesses. Regardless of their own theories, each officer threw themselves into their assigned roles with professionalism and enthusiasm. After finishing this book, I realized what an effective device this was. We were allowed to be party to a nasty murder without having all the gore stuck in our faces. I am amazed by how cleverly this book was written and based on my enjoyment I would recommend this to mystery fans – especially those who have also enjoyed other Golden Age of Mystery writers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    read during my AIG Years I Remember: surely Sayers can do better... the intriguing mystery gets lost in the unceasingly tedious recounting of all the various permutations of a train schedule... chapter after chapter of train schedules... TRAIN SCHEDULE, TRAIN SCHEDULES, STOP IT ALREADY!... where are the suspects?... oh there they are, only took a half a book to get to them... some good lines here and there... the characters of Wimsey & Bunter remain wonderful but are given little play.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I can't believe I gave two stars to a Peter Wimsey novel. Why only two stars? Well, Lord Wimsey is on a little fishing vacation in Scotland. There was a murder and Peter gets involved. Since the setting is in Scotland, the author attempted to add authenticity by having the local characters speak with a Scottish brougue. There were paragraphs of dialogue written with a thick accent. It slowed my reading progress down to the point where I lost the thread of the story. Then, there was an overly com I can't believe I gave two stars to a Peter Wimsey novel. Why only two stars? Well, Lord Wimsey is on a little fishing vacation in Scotland. There was a murder and Peter gets involved. Since the setting is in Scotland, the author attempted to add authenticity by having the local characters speak with a Scottish brougue. There were paragraphs of dialogue written with a thick accent. It slowed my reading progress down to the point where I lost the thread of the story. Then, there was an overly complicated time table involving train schedules, bicycles, and five artist. I really had a hard time keeping it all clear. Way too many theories tossed around as well. After all of that, the ending was a let down. Overall, a C-

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Where I got the book: purchased (used) on Amazon. Continuing my Lord Peter Wimsey re-read. Ah, the Wimsey book I never liked. I like it better now, but I still think it lacks something of the other books. Wimsey is in Scotland, presumably getting away from it all (it, by now, meaning Harriet Vane, who was in the last book). Somewhat incongruously, he is hanging out in an artists' community, when one of the painters, an argumentative bugger called Campbell, is found dead. And Wimsey immediately kn Where I got the book: purchased (used) on Amazon. Continuing my Lord Peter Wimsey re-read. Ah, the Wimsey book I never liked. I like it better now, but I still think it lacks something of the other books. Wimsey is in Scotland, presumably getting away from it all (it, by now, meaning Harriet Vane, who was in the last book). Somewhat incongruously, he is hanging out in an artists' community, when one of the painters, an argumentative bugger called Campbell, is found dead. And Wimsey immediately knows he's murdered, because of a detail that you really have to have read the book once before to understand - foreknowledge makes the whole of the book much clearer. I always kind of resented Sayers for not giving the reader that clue early on, because after all isn't the whole point of a classic murder mystery that the reader has ALL the facts presented to them? So we end up with six suspects, all painters, and the novel goes into excruciating detail examining the movements and motives of each of them. Railway timetables and other kinds of timetable are much in evidence, making this a hard read. In addition many of the characters speak in broad Scots, and peersonally ah'm no verra guid at followin' sich a mess o' dialogue, ye ken. Worse, we even have one witness who talkth like thith - I think Sayers is indicating here that the gentleman is Jewish, as she was cheerfully bigoted after the manner of her generation. And yet if you have the patience to wade through the Scots and the timetables and all the business about bicycles, it's a very clever mystery. Although Wimsey solves it NOT on the strength of all the miles and miles of careful reconstruction of the crime but on the strength of the aforementioned unspoken clue, which means that basically the entire middle 4/5 of the book is a RED HERRING, so yeesh. For Wimsey devotees there are also some nice little character touches, foreshadowing the deepening of character that was to come in the other Wimsey/Vane books. So for me it was fun to encounter what almost came across as new information. And, of course, cleverly written, although the older I get the more I notice the instability of POV that haunts the books. But, you see, DLS had the trick of making us into drooling Wimsey fans, showing the power of a damn good character to make up for any amount of technical faults.

  5. 5 out of 5

    F.R.

    In the second chapter of ‘Five Red Herrings’, as Lord Peter Wimsey examines the newly discovered corpse, he starts to frantically look around for a specific item. A police sergeant asks him what he’s hunting for – and the following paragraph appears in parenthesis: “Here Lord Peter Wimsey told the Sergeant what he was looking for and why, but as the intelligent reader will readily supply these details for himself, they are omitted from this page.” Now I would say that virtually no reader is going In the second chapter of ‘Five Red Herrings’, as Lord Peter Wimsey examines the newly discovered corpse, he starts to frantically look around for a specific item. A police sergeant asks him what he’s hunting for – and the following paragraph appears in parenthesis: “Here Lord Peter Wimsey told the Sergeant what he was looking for and why, but as the intelligent reader will readily supply these details for himself, they are omitted from this page.” Now I would say that virtually no reader is going to be able to guess what the sleuthing peer is actually searching for (it isn’t even mentioned in the text before this point), and since it proves to be absolutely crucial to how Winsey carries out his investigation, this omission is therefore cheating. It is a highly inelegant trick and terribly unfair on Sayers’ part. After all the reader is supposed to be given a shot at solving the case for themselves, and having such an important piece of information hidden away makes the entire book – which does have a great deal that’s entertaining within it – feel like a bit of con. You won’t need to be one of detective fiction’s great operators then, to note that I am still somewhat ambivalent about Dorothy L. Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey. And that’s a shame as there’s a lot here that I liked. The setting is a small community in Scotland where there are seemingly dozens of painters. When a particularly objectionable member of their breed is slain, there are six obvious suspects – five of whom are red herrings. The mechanics of them all having dodgy alibis is incredibly well done, the setting is nicely evoked and there are some wonderful lines – for example, a Police Inspector answering questions with “the resentful accent of a schoolboy burdened with too much homework.” There is also a nice post-modern element to this 1931 mystery. It’s noted which characters have mystery books they could have purloined ideas from; a ‘red herring’ itself is of course a term used far more often in detective novels than in actual detecting; while towards the end of the book, when Wimsey raises the possibility of the killer not being one of the six, he is chastised for being like the worst kind of detective fiction. It’s interesting that even this early in the detective novel’s surge to the top, the genre was capable of reaching in to itself. On the down side it does tip its hat as to whodunit a tad too early, and I could have down without the renderings of Scottish dialect from the more menial characters. And then of course there’s the fact that Sayers doesn’t play by the rules as far as the reader is concerned. But if you go into the mystery forearmed on that point, having steeled yourself adequately, you should find that there’s a lot between these covers to give you pleasure.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Lord Peter Wimsey is on holiday in Galloway, where people either fish or paint – and some do both. The artistic centre of Galloway is Kirkcudbright and there are many artists in the area. One evening there is an argument between a Scottish painter, called Campbell, and an English artist, named Waters. However, this was not unusual – Campbell being an argumentative man, who regularly caused trouble and fell out with his neighbours. The next morning, Campbell is found dead. Was he painting, when h Lord Peter Wimsey is on holiday in Galloway, where people either fish or paint – and some do both. The artistic centre of Galloway is Kirkcudbright and there are many artists in the area. One evening there is an argument between a Scottish painter, called Campbell, and an English artist, named Waters. However, this was not unusual – Campbell being an argumentative man, who regularly caused trouble and fell out with his neighbours. The next morning, Campbell is found dead. Was he painting, when he slipped an hit his head – or was he murdered? Lord Peter sets off in pursuit of the answer. This mystery involves six suspects, all artists who knew and who had argued with Campbell for different reasons. They are Hugh Farren, Henry Strachan, Matthew Gowan, Jock Graham, Michael Waters and John Ferguson. The problem is that all of them are possibly guilty of the crime and Lord Peter, and the police, are left to untangle all the different alibi’s and motives. This was not my favourite Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, but it was still a good read. As always, Lord Peter solves the crime and the location is an enjoyable one. At times, though, the endless lists of suspects and alibi’s got a little tedious. Lord Peter really brings the book alive, when the plot drags though and this is still a good addition to the series.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Does anyone else watch Endeavour? There’s a part where Morse’s mentor tells him that he might be able to come up with brilliant theories and connections, but the actual police work, the grunt fact checking stuff, has to get done too, and frankly, he sucks at it. ..Well that’s as it may be, as Lord Peter would say, but while it may make for a better policeman, it makes for a boring novel. Like... how do you look at Peter Wimsey stories and weirdly decide that what’s wrong with them is that there s Does anyone else watch Endeavour? There’s a part where Morse’s mentor tells him that he might be able to come up with brilliant theories and connections, but the actual police work, the grunt fact checking stuff, has to get done too, and frankly, he sucks at it. ..Well that’s as it may be, as Lord Peter would say, but while it may make for a better policeman, it makes for a boring novel. Like... how do you look at Peter Wimsey stories and weirdly decide that what’s wrong with them is that there should be more fussy paperwork? Especially when you make your reader suffer through all the pulling teeth aspects of that decision and then all but like 1% of it doesn’t pay off! Honestly, if they had one more scene talking about where someone’s bicycle may or may not have been on the morning in question, I might have chucked it, charming BBC performances or no. No one needs that much realism in their detective stories. It was almost ALMOST worth it for the big scene at the end where everybody sits around a table and gets to throw out six different theories and Sayers has done the work for all of them to be totally plausible. Although I’m sure it won’t surprise you at all to hear Peter’s theory is the winner, because of course he is the specialest snowflake of all, it was great to see other characters get to sound intelligent and rival him. He really only turns out to be right through as much blind luck as anything. But that was one relatively short scene in a relatively longer book- or at least it surrreeeeeeeeee felt that way, even listening to it. Peter’s in Scotland too, so none of his quirky friends show up to lighten the mood and provide some fun tangents for Peter’s intellect and some silly toff period dialogue to laugh at. Meh. At least my commutes were filled with the soothing sounds of BBC actors rather than the news. That’s all I can say for it- onto the next! Which is Have His Carcase. Another Harriet Vane! Hopefully this will be the one that converts me on her.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Moira Fogarty

    Yikes. I love Lord Peter, but this might well be Sayers' worst effort. Five Red Herrings has a lovely setting, taking place in Galloway. The characters are nicely penned, with an affectionate look at Scotland's dogged policemen and the recalcitrant local artists and fishermen whose obstinate refusal to tell the truth prevents them from serving justice. However, the plot is weak, repetitive and dull. Unless you are obsessed with train tickets, schedules and the minutiae of bicycle speeds, models Yikes. I love Lord Peter, but this might well be Sayers' worst effort. Five Red Herrings has a lovely setting, taking place in Galloway. The characters are nicely penned, with an affectionate look at Scotland's dogged policemen and the recalcitrant local artists and fishermen whose obstinate refusal to tell the truth prevents them from serving justice. However, the plot is weak, repetitive and dull. Unless you are obsessed with train tickets, schedules and the minutiae of bicycle speeds, models and tire treads, you should likely avoid this. The retelling of the story of the murder happens so often that one would suspect that Campbell was killed on Groundhog Day. Seriously, six investigations of six suspects is WAY too many. Even the 1985 movie Clue had only 3 alternate endings. This book comes perilously close to being a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. Then, to make sure the horse has really been flogged properly, every person who worked on solving the case gets to present their opinions on how the murder was carried out - nobody agrees on a suspect, of course - and then Lord Peter, comparing himself once again to Sherlock Holmes, comes up with the somewhat unlikely solution, pulling two rabbits out of his hat to make his case. My boyfriend, hearing me moan about how painfully long and boring the audiobook was, asked: "Who did it, the painter?" I groaned out loud. "They're ALL painters! I can't tell who's who anymore!" Lack of differentiation between suspects annoys me. When Chapter Seven arrived, I felt certain I had reached the end. Nope. Three chapters left... Zzz. Struggling to the end, I waited for the whodunnit. Reenactment of the crime was slightly more interesting than the rest, but utterly unbelievable (no police department would agree to such shenanigans). I give this a pass. Do yourself a favour: skip over this hot mess to the next book, "Have His Carcase". She wrote that in 1932, the year my Dad was born. It's a much better mystery. You'll enjoy it more, I promise.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    I loved the ending of this book, but the rest of it? Well, it's not a typical Dorothy L Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey. We didn't see so much of Lord Peter's character and foibles: Bunter played a very minor role and that mainly as Lord Peter's manservant; nor did we see much of our other regular characters. This may have been because of the location, Scotland. But the whole writing style seemed completely different to the previous Lord Peter murder mysteries I have read. I did not enjoy the timelines I loved the ending of this book, but the rest of it? Well, it's not a typical Dorothy L Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey. We didn't see so much of Lord Peter's character and foibles: Bunter played a very minor role and that mainly as Lord Peter's manservant; nor did we see much of our other regular characters. This may have been because of the location, Scotland. But the whole writing style seemed completely different to the previous Lord Peter murder mysteries I have read. I did not enjoy the timelines and regimentation as much as I enjoy Lord Peters flights of fancy and 'waffling' as he puts people at their ease and learns things they would never otherwise dream of telling him. I did enjoy the reconstruction of the crime as he believed it to have been carried out, and as I said previously, I did enjoy the ending. But this will not go down as one of my Sayer favourites.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007jw7f Description: The body was on the pointed rocks alongside the stream. The artist might have fallen from the cliff where he was painting, but there are too many suspicious elements - particularly the medical evidence that proves he'd been dead nearly half a day, though eyewitnesses had seen him alive a scant hour earlier. And then there are the six prime suspects - all of them artists, all of whom wished him dead. Five are red herrings, but one has created http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007jw7f Description: The body was on the pointed rocks alongside the stream. The artist might have fallen from the cliff where he was painting, but there are too many suspicious elements - particularly the medical evidence that proves he'd been dead nearly half a day, though eyewitnesses had seen him alive a scant hour earlier. And then there are the six prime suspects - all of them artists, all of whom wished him dead. Five are red herrings, but one has created a masterpiece of murder that baffles everyone, including Lord Peter Wimsey. 1/8: The death of an artist curtails the upper class sleuth's Scottish fishing trip. 2/8: Key suspects keep vanishing. 3/8: More evidence disappears 4/8: Bunter takes the initiative 5/8: Lord Peter attempts to verify the whereabouts of key suspects. 6/8: Who murdered the Scottish Artist? 7/8: Theories abound 8/8: Peter and his cohorts piece together the last hours before death. Flake White

  11. 4 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    In the meantime, a constable had rounded up the undertaker, who arrived in great excitement, swallowing the last fragments of his tea. A slight further delay was caused by its occurring to somebody that the Fiscal should be notified. The Fiscal, fortunately enough, happened to be in the town, and joined the party, explaining to Wimsey as they drove along to the mortuary that it was the most painful case he had handled in the whole of his experience, and that he had been much struck by the superi In the meantime, a constable had rounded up the undertaker, who arrived in great excitement, swallowing the last fragments of his tea. A slight further delay was caused by its occurring to somebody that the Fiscal should be notified. The Fiscal, fortunately enough, happened to be in the town, and joined the party, explaining to Wimsey as they drove along to the mortuary that it was the most painful case he had handled in the whole of his experience, and that he had been much struck by the superiority of the Scots law to the English in these matters, ‘For,’ said he, ‘the publicity of a coroner’s inquest is bound to give much unnecessary pain to the relations, which is avoided by our method of private investigation.’ ‘That is very true,’ said Wimsey, politely, ‘but think of all the extra fun we get from the Sunday newspapers. Inquests are jam to them.’ The Five Red Herrings started off strong and I loved the setting and some of the scenes - like Bunter being a few steps ahead of Lord Peter, retelling his adventures in the fashion of The Castle of Otranto, and then caring for Lord Peter by having the Arnica oinment at the ready for Lord Peter's bruises. However, ... for most of the book, I wished Sayers had spared us the details of doggedly chasing down every single train connection and what is more every single - it seemed - damned bicycle in the country only to find out that it was not the bicycle in question. Not one of my favourite Wimseys.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    This book has a fun setup, from a mystery aspect: in a small artist's community in Scotland, a man named Campbell is found dead at the base of a cliff, having apparently fallen to his death. But it wasn't an accident, obviously, and soon the local police, aided by his wonderfulness Lord Peter Wimsey, are on the case. There are some complications: Campbell has multiple enemies in the town, the six most likely suspects all have alibis for the time of death, and although Campbell was killed sometim This book has a fun setup, from a mystery aspect: in a small artist's community in Scotland, a man named Campbell is found dead at the base of a cliff, having apparently fallen to his death. But it wasn't an accident, obviously, and soon the local police, aided by his wonderfulness Lord Peter Wimsey, are on the case. There are some complications: Campbell has multiple enemies in the town, the six most likely suspects all have alibis for the time of death, and although Campbell was killed sometime on Monday night, multiple witnesses saw him painting on the cliff the next day. The investigation isn't terribly compelling. Dissecting the multiple alibis involves a lot of discussion about trains and schedules, which becomes mind-numbingly boring and impossible to follow after the second paragraph. Other reviews tell me that when The Five Red Herrings was written, so-called "train timetable" mysteries were all the rage, and Dorothy Sayers wrote this book mainly to prove that she could do the same. She shouldn't have bothered - the constant, lengthy monologues about "Well, if he took the 2:35 to Blahdiblah, that would give him just enough time to catch the 4:15 out of Whocares, but if he took the 1:55 like he said, that would mean it would take him nearly two hours to reach Nobodygivesafuck! Great Scott!" are boring, and I still have no idea how the various timetables worked out. The six suspects are pretty much interchangeable, to the extent that any one of them could have been named as the murderer and it wouldn't have changed anything. Also, there's a frustrating bit at the beginning when Wimsey examines the crime scene. Something is missing from the scene, Wimsey declares, and it's because of this object's absence that he knows the death was murder. What is this object, you ask? Here's what Dorothy Sayers says, right after Wimsey's revelation: "(Here Lord Peter Wimsey told the Sergeant what he was to look for and why, but as the intelligent reader will readily supply these details for himself, they are emitted from this page.)" Come on, Sayers! Okay, obviously we aren't actually expected to know what the missing object is (otherwise she would have just told us, because if it was that obvious there wouldn't be any reason to hide it), but couldn't she have chosen a less-frustrating way to keep the information from the readers? I was actually able to guess what the missing object was by the time I was 2/3 through the book, but to be fair, Sayers drops some pretty big hints about what we should be looking for. So ultimately I guess the missing clue was a good choice, because it gave me a little side mystery to work on in my head while I read the book, but it was still irritating. Normally, a book with this many issues would get less than three stars from me, but this is Dorothy Sayers, who can do no wrong in my eyes. And the reason for this is, even if the mystery is confusing and dull, it's still being investigated by Lord Peter, who continues to delight in everything he does. Also, Sayers's characters all have a working knowledge of detective stories and their tropes, and the genius of Sayers is that she has her characters point out how well they're fulfilling these common tropes throughout the investigation. It's very meta, and very amusing: "'They want to find the last person who saw the man alive,' said Wimsey, promptly. 'It's always done. It's part of the regular show. You get it in all the mystery stories. Of course, the last person to see him never commits the crime. That would make it too easy. 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.'" You can't not love that. In fact, I'm going to now disregard the review format completely and just post a bunch of delightful Peter Wimsey quotes from this book, because that's really the best part. Enjoy the delight of Lord Peter Wimsey... Discussing his particular method of detecting: "An official personage like you might embarrass them, don't you know, but there's no dignity about me. I'm probably the least awe-inspiring man in Kirkcudbright. I was born looking foolish, and every day in every way I am getting foolisher and foolisher." Breaking up a bar fight: "'This won't do,' said Wimsey, 'this isn't the League of Nations. A plague on both your houses! Have a bit of sense.'" Talking with Bunter, the Alfred to his Batman, after chasing a suspect: "Somebody's just made a moonlight flitting,' said Wimsey. 'I've been round to tell the police. At least,' he corrected himself, 'not moonlight, because there is no moon; in fact, it's beastly dark and I fell over some confounded steps, but the principle is the same and have you got any arnica?' Bunter's reply was memorable. 'My lord, I have already taken upon me, in your lordship's absence, to acquaint Sir Maxwell Jamieson with Mr. Gowan's project of escape. I have every reason to anticipate that he will be detained at Dumfries or Carlisle. If your lordship will kindly remove your garments, I will apply suitable remedies to the contusions.'" The defense rests.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    Give this volume about 3.5 stars, I think. For me, it has been the least enjoyable installment of Lord Peter Wimsey. And still, it had its great moments. Dorothy Sayers is the only author that I have read who had produced Scots dialog on the page that hasn’t annoyed me to death! I found it was effective and even a bit humorous from time to time. Where this book fell down for me was the intricacy of the clues. I know that Sayers prided herself on not “cheating,” giving the reader all the clues th Give this volume about 3.5 stars, I think. For me, it has been the least enjoyable installment of Lord Peter Wimsey. And still, it had its great moments. Dorothy Sayers is the only author that I have read who had produced Scots dialog on the page that hasn’t annoyed me to death! I found it was effective and even a bit humorous from time to time. Where this book fell down for me was the intricacy of the clues. I know that Sayers prided herself on not “cheating,” giving the reader all the clues that they needed to solve the mystery right along with Wimsey (see Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul by Barbara Reynolds). However, I would have needed to make myself a detailed flow chart if I was going to solve this mystery! So I just drifted with the flow of her writing and enjoyed other details along the way. The last few pages, including the re-enactment of the crime, were absolutely the best part of the book. I don’t usually laugh out loud when I’m reading, but I know for a fact that I produced several outbursts as I enjoyed this production! Well worth enduring all the train time tables!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I really liked this little mystery set in Scotland. It may be that I am just fond of Scotland but I found this delightful. First of all, the last place I would have thought to find Lord Peter is fishing in the Highlands. The thought of that alone makes me giggle. The murder surrounds a disliked artist and five other painter/fishermen are the suspects. It's quite entertaining as Peter makes his way through the conflicting alibis. The ending was a surprise for me. I thought it was a lot of fun. I really liked this little mystery set in Scotland. It may be that I am just fond of Scotland but I found this delightful. First of all, the last place I would have thought to find Lord Peter is fishing in the Highlands. The thought of that alone makes me giggle. The murder surrounds a disliked artist and five other painter/fishermen are the suspects. It's quite entertaining as Peter makes his way through the conflicting alibis. The ending was a surprise for me. I thought it was a lot of fun.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Rollins

    For many people this is not a popular Lord Peter book but I have always enjoyed it. The puzzle was daunting and not that interesting but the writing was good and the humor subtle.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    It turns out that train time tables are so boring that not even a great writer like Dorothy Sayers can make them interesting. Let me give you a fictional paragraph that could have been included in the book to give you an idea of the tedious and confusing-ness of train time tables in all their boring glory: "It turns out the Chamley was on the 1.5 to Ayers when we thought he was on the 1.41 to Allen even though his wife found a ticket for the 2.5, which was hard to believe because the train only r It turns out that train time tables are so boring that not even a great writer like Dorothy Sayers can make them interesting. Let me give you a fictional paragraph that could have been included in the book to give you an idea of the tedious and confusing-ness of train time tables in all their boring glory: "It turns out the Chamley was on the 1.5 to Ayers when we thought he was on the 1.41 to Allen even though his wife found a ticket for the 2.5, which was hard to believe because the train only ran at 1.3, 1.4, or 1.7 except on Sunday when it ran at 2.1 but stopped at Averrs and Arreys or on Wednesdays when it ran at 1.8 and 1.9. His neighbor Cunnley ran into Miss Bev and Miss Bav on the 1.1 from Ayers stopping in Allen..." The moral lesson I would like everyone to take away from this review is that train time tables are boring. Painfully boring. So boring that it brings me to tears faster than that scene in Heidi when they take her from her grandfather.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    Five Red Herrings does a couple of things that really annoy me, like having a long section of people positing obviously wrong ways the crime unfolded, and the whole “the reader will of course know what the missing object was” bit — no, I don’t! I’m not a painter, I don’t have that education, and I don’t know how common it would’ve been in Sayers’ time, but knowing that fact has not lasted. In any case, reading it this time, I did enjoy Five Red Herrings more than I did last time, perhaps. The int Five Red Herrings does a couple of things that really annoy me, like having a long section of people positing obviously wrong ways the crime unfolded, and the whole “the reader will of course know what the missing object was” bit — no, I don’t! I’m not a painter, I don’t have that education, and I don’t know how common it would’ve been in Sayers’ time, but knowing that fact has not lasted. In any case, reading it this time, I did enjoy Five Red Herrings more than I did last time, perhaps. The introduction in the new edition drew my attention to the fantastic sense of place and character, and to appreciate again the way that Peter is embedded in the mystery, caring about the people involved. Plot-wise, it’s very clever again, literally written according to train timetables and precise distances between places. It might not be my favourite, but I can appreciate all the work that went into it. Sayers may not have thought her detective novels terribly literary or worthwhile, but hindsight says they are. Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andree

    This is a solid mystery novel, very detailed, very well planned, but it didn't work particularly well for me this time around. I like the idea behind the book - a man who is fairly universally disliked is murdered, and six people have more or less equally terrible alibis. But something in the execution falls a bit flat. Perhaps it's the reread, but I suspect it's due to a combination of other factors, notably: 1. There's very little Lord Peter being, well, Lord Peter (for lack of a better descrip This is a solid mystery novel, very detailed, very well planned, but it didn't work particularly well for me this time around. I like the idea behind the book - a man who is fairly universally disliked is murdered, and six people have more or less equally terrible alibis. But something in the execution falls a bit flat. Perhaps it's the reread, but I suspect it's due to a combination of other factors, notably: 1. There's very little Lord Peter being, well, Lord Peter (for lack of a better description). With the exception of the reconstruction of the crime at the end, there's very little fun in the detecting in this one. It's heavy on the detail, and the planning, but light on, well, for lack of a better term, the heart. I missed Lord Peter cavorting around being vaguely charming. 2. Related to the lack of charm, the character interactions in this one are lacking. Lord Peter is on vacation, which has the effect of distancing himself from essentially all familiar characters. Parker pops up a couple of times, but it's hardly a major role. And Lord Peter's dynamic with the plethora of Scottish detectives is not the same. Bunter is there, especially in the first half, but he more or less disappears for the entire second half of the novel. More Bunter would have definitely been a help. But there is also no Dowager Duchess, no Lady Mary, no mention of Harriet (for obvious reasons), there's not even the Right Honourable Freddy. Even an appearance by the Duke of Denver or his wife would have been interesting. But no, it's just Lord Peter and a pack of strangers, which is less effective. 3. The problem with having six equally plausible suspects that are all artists, and all hate the victim is that they become interchangeable, and it's hard to keep them straight. Particularly if you read this book in fits and starts (which I did). Ditto the plethora of Scottish investigators. 4. The Scots dialect... I'm always of two minds when I see dialects written out. I was fine with this for a while, but then I kind of wished there was less of it. 5. The sheer amount of detail required gives this a clinical quality. Beth described it as "the one with all the train schedules," which I didn't remember, and didn't notice the first readthrough. But this time around, when I was already less engaged, the constant rehashing of the timeline, in an attempt to pin down everyone's movements got more than a little tiresome. It's very intricately planned, which I can objectively admire, but impressive planning is not quite enough to sustain my interest in 350+ pages of detecting. 6. The whole time I mostly just wanted to be rereading "Have his Carcase" for Harriet-related reasons. But that one is next, so, win? To sum up: Objectively solid from a mystery plot perspective, perhaps less so from a character-driven perspective.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    My least favourite. I got lost among all the bicycles and train timetables.

  20. 5 out of 5

    John

    Lately I've been reading a lot of mysteries. They are a fun way of spending an evening at home when there is nothing good to watch and the secondary literature in my academic discipline begins to seem a little tedious. *The Five Red Herrings* is a fine example of the genre. Unlike other Dorothy Sayers books, the mystery was done in the form of character sketches: every chapter focused on a single character, and the chapters were even named after the theme character, and the style of writing chan Lately I've been reading a lot of mysteries. They are a fun way of spending an evening at home when there is nothing good to watch and the secondary literature in my academic discipline begins to seem a little tedious. *The Five Red Herrings* is a fine example of the genre. Unlike other Dorothy Sayers books, the mystery was done in the form of character sketches: every chapter focused on a single character, and the chapters were even named after the theme character, and the style of writing changes in many of them to reflect the person that Sayers is describing. I think I saw a movie of the book a few years ago, and it completely skipped this important structural element. I suppose Sayers got the idea to do this from the premise: the five red herrings seems to suggest multiple takes on the same situation. Admittedly, some of these takes were not as well done as others, and some chapters didn't carry out the large scale trends, but it seemed an interesting approach to a murder mystery. The story was also structured sort of like a fugue, except with contrasting motifs, that all reach a climax in the later chapters where you get multiple stories and multiple names in the chapter titles. I also really liked the opening: the fact that Sayers deliberately withheld the key fact, which even though I vaguely guessed it (I can't give up on a challenge!), added a sort of excitement to the book, since I was strongly motivated to find out if I was right. I also admit that I liked the Scottish setting, the fact that it involved painters (how many murder mysteries are there of painters?), and the key clue was unique, and the fact that it was so ingeniously constructed. I mean it takes real skill to come up with a plot that is so complicated, so consistent, and allows at least four or five equally persuasive versions of events. It is masterful. The only qualm I might have is that it doesn't emphasize any of the standard relationships that one finds in Sayers' books: Bunter and Wimsey, Harriet Vane and Whimsey, and it is even lacking some of the relationships within the Wimsey family, all things that most Sayers fans probably depend upon. But I suppose that this added a certain charm. Like Jane Austen's *Mansfield Park* it is a different sort of Sayers, and variety, after all, is the spice of life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    “The more you hate everybody for hating you, the more unattractive you grow and the more they hate you.” By her own admission (elsewhere), in this book, “the plot was invented to fit a real locality.” Apparently, written to please her Scottish friends, this is a Sudoku puzzle of clues spread through several hundred pages of prose. Not one or two but five false trails are explored and discarded. Dreary. The least pleasing Wimsey mystery to date. “This English habit of rushing into situations on a h “The more you hate everybody for hating you, the more unattractive you grow and the more they hate you.” By her own admission (elsewhere), in this book, “the plot was invented to fit a real locality.” Apparently, written to please her Scottish friends, this is a Sudoku puzzle of clues spread through several hundred pages of prose. Not one or two but five false trails are explored and discarded. Dreary. The least pleasing Wimsey mystery to date. “This English habit of rushing into situations on a high tide of chatter and excitement.” Five percent in, Sayers inserts a comment, “… as the intelligent reader will readily supply these details for himself, they are omitted….” Dirty trick. Yes, I deduced the omitted clue (partly because I’m a painter), but that’s cheating. “Even you … look on me as nothing more than an amiable nuisance, don’t you?” “There may be something in what you say.” Quibbles: Too many stage directions. The dialect is excruciating. “Eh, mon! But ye’re over clever tae be an honest mon.” (Some words I never deciphered.) “Still, it doesn’t do to murder people, however offensive they may be.”

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Meh. I am told Sayers wrote this at a time when railroad timetable mysteries were popular, just to prove she could. I believe it. Basically, the first half of the book features Lord Peter and all the policemen going through all the permutations of Scotland's mindboggling train schedule, as well as six suspects who are barely distinguishable from each other. During the second half, the plot really picks up, and we finally get a little characterisation of each of the suspects, as well as some much Meh. I am told Sayers wrote this at a time when railroad timetable mysteries were popular, just to prove she could. I believe it. Basically, the first half of the book features Lord Peter and all the policemen going through all the permutations of Scotland's mindboggling train schedule, as well as six suspects who are barely distinguishable from each other. During the second half, the plot really picks up, and we finally get a little characterisation of each of the suspects, as well as some much-needed plot not involving trains or bicycles. Unfortunately, this leads the reader to hope and even assume that the solution will be surprising and fresh. Sadly, that hope is dashed. And there are only approximately two scenes of Lord Peter being awesome. He's just... there for the most part. Quite disappointing. What I liked was the method of concealing the fact of murder, which was, frankly, ingenious. I think the book would have benefited from making that part of the speculation.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

    1931, #6 Lord Peter Wimsey, on holiday in Scotland, apa SUSPICIOUS CHARACTERS; an artists' colony in a wee town in Scotland is filled with odd stories, peculiar alibis, and confused police after the most unliked man in town gets himself messily murdered whilst painting a landscape. Classic timetable plot with a peculiar attitude, four stars. Campbell is a completely unlikable man, the Perfect Victim - a murder just waiting to happen! He makes himself thoroughly unpleasant quite regularly in the l 1931, #6 Lord Peter Wimsey, on holiday in Scotland, apa SUSPICIOUS CHARACTERS; an artists' colony in a wee town in Scotland is filled with odd stories, peculiar alibis, and confused police after the most unliked man in town gets himself messily murdered whilst painting a landscape. Classic timetable plot with a peculiar attitude, four stars. Campbell is a completely unlikable man, the Perfect Victim - a murder just waiting to happen! He makes himself thoroughly unpleasant quite regularly in the little fishing town/artist's colony of Kirkcudbright, and does so once too often one dark night. Having gone on a bender, the alcohol brings out simply the worst of his irascible and somewhat ugly personality and he manages to totally infuriate most of his almost-friends and artists. One of them kills him, but there's a lot that happens in little Kirkcudbright that night, with the murder only the capping stone of "business". I'm currently in the process of rereading several of my favorite "Golden Age of Detection" female authors' work, and while it's been about twenty years since I last read this one and didn't remember much of the actual plot, what I *did* remember, or thought I had, was that this was THE most boring of Sayers' books. She's always been one of my all-time favorite authors, and I wasn't really looking forward to it, but since I'm OCD and this one was next in sequence, well... There are lots of reviews that will mention right off the top that "all the train business" was boring, and it is. And downright annoying, which it was. BUT. But. I think this novel is a great big joke on Sayers part, a satire of popular detective novel styles of the period. She was definitely "having us on", kwim? This novel may have been the result of one of those dinners where several mystery/suspense writers/friends gather together, and after a few drinks begin to argue, and perhaps bet with each other. And somebody says that the optimum number of definite suspects in a mystery novel ought not be any more than two or three at any given time, and that it would make the story unworkable if there were more than that. And Sayers decided (or maybe there was a bet...) to write a mystery with not three, not four, but at least five definite "main suspects", and "make it work". And it *does*, although the train stuff drove me mad (grin). And it does sort of stun the reader into missing several important bits of information (very necessary...). The first two-thirds of the novel are somewhat stodgy, although the pacing is actually rather sharp - all that timetable stuff overwhelms the reader, and you don't at first realize what's happening - the night-and-day after the murder is a damnably busy one for a sleepy little town! The alibis are all mixed up - most of the suspects don't have any, several sort-of do, one guy has far, far too many alibis... etc. It isn't until you get to the last third or so of the novel, when The Authorities and Lord Peter set out to "reconstruct the crime" and each does so. Wimsey elects to reconstruct every happening of the night and day in a particularly splashy fashion, involving all the local bigwigs and policemen (!) into participating in various roles of suspects, murderee and murderer. Totally ludicrous IF you're wanting something believable, but entirely fun if you're watching how Sayers weaves her story. She takes the "gather all the suspects" sort of ending scene and spins it out over the last four chapters, throws in a rehash of the plot just previous to this as each policeman/VIP gives *their* impression/reconstruction of the crime, and then has Wimsey show them how it really was done, by actually, physically, reconstructing the crime! It's a classic format but twisted, and her execution is brilliant, simply brilliant. And a heckuva lot of fun, IMO. Sayers obviously had a good time working this one out, and I had a good time (at the end, anyway) going along for the ride. Can't give it five stars, though, because all the timetable stuff is SO ubiquitous. And pretty nearly all the dialogue is written "in dialect" and it's eNORmously annoying! (Pet Peeve of mine, it mightn't bother you as much). Although both things might just have been Sayers' way of seeing just how far she could spin those then-very-popular elements out in a novel - it's way, way over-the-top, and readers of the period would likely have recognized this by the time they got almost to the end. Actually, this novel has far, far too much of pretty nearly *everything* then considered necessary for a "good" (or maybe "popular") mystery novel. And that was quite deliberate on Sayers' part. BOTTOM LINE: Don't let its reputation or the timetable elements bother/worry you, skip over them if you must - it won't damage your enjoyment of the plot very much. Get yourself familiar with the Dramatis Personae and then carefully read the last half/third of the novel closely. It's well worth it. Recommended only for those with an odd sense of humor, and a good deal of patience, but it's worthwhile working your way to the end. [NOTE: I number a series of novels only, not including the short story collections, thus this is the sixth novel although GR shows it as #7]

  24. 5 out of 5

    LeahBethany

    2.5 stars rounding up. The Five Red Herrings took me forever to read! I'm not sure if it was the very convoluted mystery that delved into train timetables, stolen bikes, tickets punches, drawing times, etc. or the brilliant yet annoying-to-read phonetic Scottish dialect. I've heard that you don't have to read the Lord Peter Wimsey series in order so I would recommend skipping this one... 2.5 stars rounding up. The Five Red Herrings took me forever to read! I'm not sure if it was the very convoluted mystery that delved into train timetables, stolen bikes, tickets punches, drawing times, etc. or the brilliant yet annoying-to-read phonetic Scottish dialect. I've heard that you don't have to read the Lord Peter Wimsey series in order so I would recommend skipping this one...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jazzy Lemon

    Lord Peter Wimsey goes to Kirkcudbright on the West Coast of Scotland and gets stuck in a case involving artists, cyclists, and train timetables. My favourite so far!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    I enjoyed the full cast audio version of this Sayers classic with Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter. The mystery centers on the murder of an artist in a Scottish town. Another artist must have committed the murder. Train tables receive quite a bit of attention. Many people criticize these, but I'm not familiar enough with them to do so. In the end each investigator comes up with his own theory, but Lord Peter, of course, solves the problem. I enjoyed the full cast audio version of this Sayers classic with Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter. The mystery centers on the murder of an artist in a Scottish town. Another artist must have committed the murder. Train tables receive quite a bit of attention. Many people criticize these, but I'm not familiar enough with them to do so. In the end each investigator comes up with his own theory, but Lord Peter, of course, solves the problem.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Although I have been a fan of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey books for years now (and because there are so few, I’ve been parcelling them out, reading one only every so often), I have to say that, while I enjoyed the journey that The Five Red Herrings allowed me to take, I had to just laugh at myself, relax, and amble along, as if I were on an uphill hike and concerned only with forward movement. The plot is simple enough: an artist in a Scottish village dies in an accident—or that’s how i Although I have been a fan of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey books for years now (and because there are so few, I’ve been parcelling them out, reading one only every so often), I have to say that, while I enjoyed the journey that The Five Red Herrings allowed me to take, I had to just laugh at myself, relax, and amble along, as if I were on an uphill hike and concerned only with forward movement. The plot is simple enough: an artist in a Scottish village dies in an accident—or that’s how it seems for a second; of course he’s been murdered. There are six suspects, but five are—yes, you guessed it—red herrings, thrown in our path to confuse us. And, oh my—I was confused. Often. So many theories about who is guilty and how each suspect managed the task are bandied about—in detail—that my eyes began to cross. If this weren’t enough, a fair chunk of the book—not surprisingly, because of the location—is written in Scottish dialect; naturally, this slowed me down as I had to translate as I went. Other dialects are represented, too, including Cockney (not so bad), and a few pages of monologue by a man with an extreme lisp. I nearly lost my mind at that point. But Lord Peter is amusing company and Sayers’s writing is wonderful, so I persevered and—as I said—just relaxed and went along for the ride...feeling rather dumb, but appreciating the scenery.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    Some bits of this were funny and just perfectly Peter Wimsey-ical. But a lot of it was routine painstaking working out of timetables and alibis and who was lying when and about what. It doesn't help that one rather feels that the murdered man deserved it, and the suspects don't. Or that the dialogue is mostly written with a stab at phonetically spelling out the Scottish accent/dialect. It's hard to read, and it isn't terribly rewarding, allow the last fifty pages or so is wonderful. There isn't e Some bits of this were funny and just perfectly Peter Wimsey-ical. But a lot of it was routine painstaking working out of timetables and alibis and who was lying when and about what. It doesn't help that one rather feels that the murdered man deserved it, and the suspects don't. Or that the dialogue is mostly written with a stab at phonetically spelling out the Scottish accent/dialect. It's hard to read, and it isn't terribly rewarding, allow the last fifty pages or so is wonderful. There isn't enough of any of the characters one cares about, and actually, if I were rereading the series some time in a couple of years, my advice to myself would be to skip this one, or just read the last fifty pages. The part where it doesn't tell you what Wimsey found, or rather, didn't find, is infuriating. If you're an artist who works with paints, you'll know. If you don't, you'll go most of the book without knowing. Infuriating!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    Five Red Herrings was probably my least favourite of the Wimsey books, and I found it rather infuriating as a radioplay, too. One entire episode was given over to people all expounding wrong theories about the murderer -- theories which I knew to be wrong. The end of the episode, where Peter says they're all wrong, is the highlight of the whole thing, and couldn't come soon enough. The mystery itself is interesting, but far too convoluted. The casting was pretty good, though I missed Gabriel Wolf Five Red Herrings was probably my least favourite of the Wimsey books, and I found it rather infuriating as a radioplay, too. One entire episode was given over to people all expounding wrong theories about the murderer -- theories which I knew to be wrong. The end of the episode, where Peter says they're all wrong, is the highlight of the whole thing, and couldn't come soon enough. The mystery itself is interesting, but far too convoluted. The casting was pretty good, though I missed Gabriel Wolf as Inspector Parker -- whoever read his lines wasn't quite right.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    I read this once before, not sure when. Just finished it again. Good fun, but I clearly don't have the kind of mind that devours detective fiction. It is like watching five different people solve a crossword puzzle five different ways, followed by a triumphal resolution. I read this once before, not sure when. Just finished it again. Good fun, but I clearly don't have the kind of mind that devours detective fiction. It is like watching five different people solve a crossword puzzle five different ways, followed by a triumphal resolution.

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