Book Review: The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers (Two Stars)


Book Review: The Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey #7) by Dorothy L. Sayers

Two Stars

“The more you hate everybody for hating you, the more unattractive you grow and the more they hate you.”

By her own admission (elsewhere), “the plot was invented to fit a real locality.” Apparently, also 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.”