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The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers

The Five Red Herrings (original 1931; edition 1995)

by Dorothy L. Sayers

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2,179484,341 (3.63)154
Title:The Five Red Herrings
Authors:Dorothy L. Sayers
Info:HarperTorch (1995), Mass Market Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers (1931)

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Yes, you can make an excellent case that the plot of this book is an extended work problem. However, with such lovely writing, and rich characterization, I very much enjoyed this book.

Having rather a crush on both Lord Peter and Bunter doesn't keep me from recognizing flaws... but does incline me to forgive them :) ( )
  hopeevey | Jun 16, 2018 |
Re-read time. This is one of those mysteries that revolves around timings. How long does it take to paint a picture, how long does it take to cycle from A to B etc. Lots of train timetables and tickets to explore. An awful lot of bicycles to lose, find, ride, borrow and send by train to London. Strikes me as a bit of an exercise, to some extent, showing she could do it, as it's quite unlike anything else in the series from that perspective.
Wimsey is holidaying in Scotland, in a artistic & fishing community. Not entirely clear why he is there and it does leave Bunter a bit out in the cold. He is nothing like as present as in other books. The death is an unpopular painter who has seemingly argued with everyone. Early on,a list is made of 6 painters who could have done the deed, 5 of which are the red herrings of the title. In the conclusion, they are each advanced by one of those involved in the investigation, before Wimsey sets out to show who it was by means of a reconstruction. It's a neat little device, as each snippet of information gets tidied up, and each apparent impossibility shown to be viable.
It's an interesting exercise, if not typical of the series. ( )
  Helenliz | Apr 27, 2017 |
Lord Peter in Scotland. Very different from the others. Some people don't like this variation of the Lord Peter mysteries, but I enjoyed the glimpse of Scotland and artists. It was written to honor her friends in Scotland.

Glad this wasn't the first Sayers novel I read, because I never would have read another one if it was. Too many timetables, too much dialect. Not content to do broad Scotch dialects, she threw in what I took for a person with a lisping speech defect, but apparently was supposed to be a Jewish merchant. Perhaps he was a Jewish merchant with a lisp. It could happen. :/ I would say that most of the characters displayed some of the most unpleasant character traits of the upper class British in the 1930s. Whether or not the author also had those thoughts and traits is unclear. One hopes not. Part of the problem with this story is that there really are very few likable characters in it and the policemen, who may have been likable, had such strong dialect writing it was hard to know.

I did enjoy the last chapter where the police followed Wimsey around the countryside as he reconstructed the crime. I enjoyed the very few literary references she allowed herself in this, but other than that, it is a story for someone who cares passionately about timetables, railroads and Galloway. ( )
  MrsLee | Aug 22, 2016 |
In the artists' community of Kirkcudbright, Scotland, quarrelsome landscape painter Sandy Campbell has managed to enrage most of his fellow-painters with his foul-mouthed, belligerent ways. On a Monday night, he has been on a booze-fuelled rampage, picking fights and looking for trouble. On Tuesday afternoon, he is found head-down in a stream with his painting gear and a half-finished canvas on the bank. At first it appears to be an accident, but because of a certain critical missing article, Lord Peter Wimsey deduces that it is murder. There are at least six suspects - five are red herrings and one is the killer.

The alibis all hinge on times reported by witnesses (who may be truthful, mistaken, or lying) and the distance between towns and the timetables of trains. There is a lot of "Could he have gotten from here to there by 11.18 on a bicycle?" or "The 8.20 at Girvan is only on Sunday. On Tuesday, it doesn't get in till 8.35." Some readers didn't like this plot device and found it boring, but I enjoyed it very much. The Scottish vernacular is hilarious. Lord Peter's reconstruction of the crime and how the murderer faked his alibi is superb. A wonderful classic mystery by Sayers; one of my favourites. ( )
  booksandscones | Jun 11, 2016 |
Five Red Herrings is a play on the timetable style of whodunit, and opens with a map of the area showing roads, train routes, and local towns and villages. It’s set in Galloway, Scotland, and the victim and suspects are all painters, a mix of year-round locals and seasonal artists. The story opens with the dead man’s last night, which includes a bar fight that Lord Peter breaks up, and a roadside confrontation later on. The death was arranged to look like an accident while painting the following morning, but Lord Peter quickly discerns that it must have been staged based on a vital missing clue that is not revealed until the end. Early on, train time tables are provided as well, as this is a key part of people’s movements and establishing alibis. The victim was generally awful, treated everyone horribly, thus resulting in a multitude of suspects (and so, the title of the story). The situation is a jumble of angry motivations of suspiciously absent suspects with partial or fabricated or no alibis; mysterious strangers on bikes, trains and automobiles; stolen bicycles and surprising witnesses; and general confusion. Charles Parker has a small role because one of the suspects disappears from Galloway and turns up in London. The case is being investigated by Lord Peter and Bunter, local Constables Ross and Duncan, local Sergeant Dalziel, Inspector Macpherson, Chief Constable Sir Maxwell Jamieson. The end of the book begins with all of the investigators coming together, each pitching their own theory featuring a different suspect, proposed timetable, and explanation for the assembled evidence. After hearing the cases against the 5 red herrings, Lord Peter proposes recreating the crime and the movements of the real perpetrator. This action takes up the last 3 chapters, convincing his fellow investigators who go along either roleplaying victim and suspects or simply observers, to the bemusement and surprise of various previously interviewed witnesses and new bystanders along the route. It’s a pretty rousing climax that results in a confession and sense of relief by the perpetrator. ( )
  justchris | Jan 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sayers, Dorothy L.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bayer, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bergvall, SonjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bleck, CathieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
George, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldberg, CarinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffini, Grazia MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malahide, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michal, MarieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Næstved, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pekkanen, HilkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my friend Joe Dignam,
kindliest of landlords
First words
If one lives in Galloway, one either fishes or paints.
(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 omitted from this page.)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the book Five Red Herrings (originally published in the US as Suspicious Characters).
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006104363X, Mass Market Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:39 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Lord 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 people did not regret Campbell's death - five were red herrings.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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