Tag Archives: Dorothy L. Sayers

Clouds of Witness

Since I can’t spend all my time on Lady Audley or I’ll get ahead of everyone, I’m also reading other things.   One of the things was Dorothy L. Sayers’ Clouds of Witness, the second Lord Peter Wimsey mystery.   This time the mystery is closer to home as his brother has been arrested for the murder of his sister’s fiance.  He doesn’t let the personal nature of the mystery stifle his usual merry rambling on.  Lord Peter has been having a break in Greece or somewhere, but is on his way home when he gets the news of his brother.   Inspector Parker is already on the scene and together they track obliging sets of footprints all over the estate, track down their owners, sort out all the false statements and their are masses of them as everyone seems to be protecting somebody else.    

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I enjoyed this a lot until the end when it got strangely repetitive.   Admittedly in a court case you want to make sure the jury understands your point of view, but it all seems pretty clear when they dig up the last of the evidence, there’s no real need to go through it twice.   Perhaps the book wasn’t long enough.   But otherwise, as I said, I enjoyed it and was eager to follow Lord Peter on the trail.    I suspect I should not read these sorts of books — they make me dissatisfied with my own life as I have no one waking me with coffee in bed, running my bath, etc.    Even if I had the money, I doubt I could find someone like Bunter.   

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Whose Body?

This is the first Lord Peter Wimsey novel and rather like Poirot, he seems to spring fully-formed from his creator’s brow.   Everything is there in the first book, his whimsy, his sharpness, his fatuousness, his relationship with Bunter.   I love his relationship with his mother and Parker.   I thought there were more, but there are only 11 Wimsey novels by Sayers.   

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The story opens with Lord Peter headed for a rare book sale when he realizes he’s forgotten his catalog.  He dashes back home for it only to receive a call from his mother alerting him to the fact that an architect they know has just found a body in his bath this morning.   Completely k-naked with no k-nickers on, as Benny Hill used to say.  In fact, the body is wearing nothing but pince-nez.   Lord Peter sends Bunter to the book sale and buzzes off for a look at the body.   While he annoys one inspector, he works hand-in-glove with Inspector Parker on this and the disappearance of a wealthy financier, Sir Reuben Levy.  His flippant way of talking is entertaining to me, but might just annoy some people.

The solution is good, although there aren’t really a pool of suspects to choose from.   It’s more of an investigation.   In Five Red Herrings, you had the town and the murder had to be committed by an artist who had a problem with the victim.   This left six people as it was an arty town and the victim was inclined to get into arguments with all and sundry.   Here they’re not even sure there’s been a crime.   The body in the bath has not necessarily been murdered and Sir Reuben has disappeared, but it’s possible he’s just gone off somewhere.   So, while it’s definitely an interesting story, even if a bit far-fetched in the end, it’s not my favorite kind of mystery.  

This counts as another Cozy and probably somewhere on the Bingo card, but I’m not sure.

Traffic Light of Mystery Week

I just finished Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers, having recently read The Mystery of the Yellow Room and Green for Danger.  I realized today these are the same three colors in a traffic light.   Not that that is significant.  Or intentional.   Of the three, Five Red Herrings is by far the best.   Not a huge surprise as Sayers is usually said in the same breath with Christie for tops in mystery.  I’ve not actually read any of hers before, though I may have tried once upon a time.   Partly I wanted to forget the plots from having seen the old TV shows with Ian Carmichael, which were very good, but I don’t like to read mysteries in which I know the end.    

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Five Red Herrings takes place in an artistic Scottish fishing village.   Everyone either paints, fishes or does both.   It’s a real place and I had fun looking it up on Google maps.    This book might have a bit too many railroad timetables and police interviews with porters and Scottish dialect, but I was so happy to read an intelligent, fair play mystery.   One Sandy Campbell — a resident of Kirkcudbright and artist — irritates, annoys, irks and enrages everyone around him.  When Campbell is found dead after a night of drinking and quarreling, it looks like he fell down a steep bank while painting, but Lord Peter Wimsey soon figures out this cannot be.  It’s murder.   Wimsey comes up with six suspects almost immediately and it is largely entertaining finding out what each of these eccentrics has been up to.   The clues were enough that I figured out who it was shortly before the reveal, but not how it was done.

Definitely going to be reading more Sayers.   Although it makes me long for a personal servant like Bunter, which is not really a possibility.

Along with being a Cozy, this gives me a Golden Age Bingo.   

Book with a Color in the title:  Mystery of the Yellow Room

Book with a Number in the Ttile: Five Red Herrings

Book with an Amateur Detective: Body in the Library

Book with a Professional Detective: The Case is Closed

Book Set in England – Murder is Easy

Book Set in the U.S. – League of Frightened Men

BINGO!

I also think this counts as a Mystery Classic and as a Scottish book – it is set in Scotland.