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Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers
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Clouds of Witness (1926)

by Dorothy L. Sayers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lord Peter Wimsey (2)

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Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
A pre-WWII British cozy mystery that started out much better than it ended. The banter between amateur sleuth Peter Wimsey and pretty much everyone from his Scotland Yard friend Parker to his gentleman's gentleman Bunter was a hoot. And the mystery itself, with its convoluted mess of coincidences and witnesses practically tripping over each other, was pure comic drama. But then there was the long-winded info-dump of a solution that brought in characters and situations barely hinted at earlier in the book. What?! The first in this series, Whose Body?, had me expecting another tongue-in-cheek parody of a Sherlock Holmes-level mystery but that's not what I got. I'm hoping the next will be better. ( )
  wandaly | Feb 28, 2017 |
I continue to stumble my way through Golden Age mysteries in an attempt to understand what so many other readers enjoy in them. So far, my only real success has been with Gladys Mitchell's Mrs. Bradley, but I am determined to emerge triumphant with Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey. I have to admit that it's been a bit of a hard slog. Perhaps I should just jump ahead to the book in which Harriet Vane makes her appearance?

The largest part of Lord Peter's investigation in Clouds of Witness seemed to be crawling around on the floor staring at the carpet, and I was about ready to admit defeat when Wimsey's sister finally decided to tell the truth. Then the mystery really began to get somewhere.

I am glad that I soldiered on to the end because I do see glimmers of what this series will be in snippets of conversation between characters, and that "lost in the fog in the bog" scene is marvelous. I do enjoy historical mysteries, but I am most definitely a 21st-century reader, so I do sometimes doubt the wisdom behind my dabbling into these fabled waters... but it is for the very reason that these mysteries are fabled that I can't leave them alone! ( )
  cathyskye | Jan 30, 2017 |
I'd read some of Sayers' lit. crit, but this was my first of her mysteries. I just felt it was too easy to see where this was going. The one really effective red herring falls apart half way through and then it's just a gradual unravel. I wasn't even convinced that the resolution was clearly inevitable from the clues provided. At one point there is a physical implausibility that seems to be sheer carelessness by the author. I'll read more by Sayers and hope they are better. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
The plot is absurdly complicated, amusingly so. There are no end of intrigues in the country house where the murder takes place.

But that's not the joy of reading a Sayers' novel: the pleasure is all in the humor. Wimsey acting a fool, Bunter's magical ability to produce anything needed, Mary's good heart, and the Dowager's formidable control of everything. It's Downton Abbey written by Oscar Wilde.

Personal copy ( )
  Kaethe | Oct 17, 2016 |
Summary: Lord Peter is summoned to find out the truth concerning the death of Denis Cathcart, for which his brother Gerald is facing a murder trial before the peers of the realm.

Lord Peter Wimsey, just returned from a jaunt in France, is informed by his man Bunter that he might want to be off to Riddlesdale, the family home. It seems that his brother Gerald, the Duke of Denver, has been arrested on the charge of murder. The facts are these. Peter's sister is engaged to Captain Denis Cathcart and is visiting Lady Mary, his betrothed. Now Cathcart is dead of a gunshot wound from Gerald's revolver, and Mary finds Gerald over the body on a garden path as she comes down at 3 a.m., saying she has heard a shot.

Earlier that evening, Gerald received a letter from an old friend accusing Cathcart of being a card sharp. This is just about the ultimate offense among gentlemen and so Gerald confronts Cathcart in what ends up to be an angry exchange of words. Cathcart, who was planning to ditch Lady Mary, storms off. Gerald tries to get to sleep but cannot and gets up about an hour later, goes out, apparently wanders for several hours, and claims that he was returning and finds the body. But his gun is found nearby, and the evidence is sufficiently damning for the police to arrest Gerald. And Gerald does nothing to help himself, remaining silent about his whereabouts that evening. It doesn't look good for the Duke of Denver.

Enter Lord Peter, who believes from the start that his brother couldn't possibly be capable of such an act. And it doesn't add up. Cathcart is leaving Mary and so no further intervention is needed. Yet the case seems open and shut. But some things don't add up. There are conflicting reports of when the shot was fired--11:40 p.m. and 3 a.m. There are size 10 footprints that do not belong to any of the party. The window to the den was pried, even though the door to the garden had been left open. There is a diamond broach of a cat left by the body, but the woman with Cathcart when it was purchased does not fit Mary's description. And there is the unfriendly Grimethorpe, and his exceedingly attractive wife, who seem to know something important.

Parker heads off to Paris, and Lord Peter takes a perilous plane trip to America and back, tracking down the clues. The trial before the peers of England opens, and Lord Peter has not returned and a terrible winter storm lies in his flight path across the Atlantic. Will he make it in time (will he make it at all?) and will his evidence exonerate his brother and reveal how Cathcart died? I will leave that for you to discover.

This is only the second of the Lord Peter Wimsey tales. I felt Sayers was still developing her craft, but already we see the development of the characters of Lord Peter, Bunter, and Parker, and their relationships. The description of the trial by Gerald's peers, other Lords of England, is fascinating. Already, this is good writing, and I commend reading this before later numbers because it only gets better!

[A note on editions. This book is now in public domain and is now available in very inexpensive digital versions, one of which I downloaded. There were passages missing (noted) apparently from a quickly scanned version. From other reviews, I gather the current print edition may not be better. Open Road generally releases high quality digital versions. This one includes an illustrated biography of Sayers with photographs from the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College. Older print versions may also be found at second hand stores or online sellers.] ( )
  BobonBooks | Oct 3, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sayers, Dorothy L.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barcilon, RogerCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bayer, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bergvall, SonjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bleck, CathieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carmichael, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
George, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffini, Grazia MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michal, MarieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Lord Peter Wimsey stretched himself luxuriously between the sheets provided by the Hotel Meurice.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please distinguish between this mystery novel, Cloud Of Witnesses by Dorothy L. Sayers (1926), and the similarly-titled anthology of essays, Cloud Of Witnesses edited by Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday (1991; rev'd 2005). Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061043532, Mass Market Paperback)

Rustic old Riddlesdale Lodge was a Wimsey family retreat filled with country pleasures and the thrill of the hunt -- until the game turned up human and quite dead. He lay among the chrysanthemums, wore slippers and a dinner jacket and was Lord Peter's brother-in-law-to-be. His accused murderer was Wimsey's own brother, and if murder set all in the family wasn't enough to boggle the unflappable Lord Wimsey, perhaps a few twists of fate would be -- a mysterious vanishing midnight letter from Egypt...a grieving fiancee with suitcase in hand...and a bullet destined for one very special Wimsey.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Lord Peter is on vacation when he hears that a dead body has been found at the Wimsey family retreat, and that Lord Peter's brother, the Duke of Denver, is being held for the crime. The dead man? Their sister's fiance.? Lord Peter must clear his brother's name to avoid the death penalty. There is overwhelming circumstantial evidence against the Duke, but Lord Peter firmly believes that his brother is innocent and begins his own investigation into the murder. Can Lord Peter find the truth in time to save his brother and the family name?… (more)

» see all 15 descriptions

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