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Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey #7)

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  7,674 ratings  ·  283 reviews
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, ...more
Audio CD, Abridged, 8 pages
Published May 5th 2003 by BBC Physical Audio (first published 1931)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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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.
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
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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 ...more
Susan Johnson
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.
John
Nov 28, 2007 John rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a good mystery
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 ...more
Nikki
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
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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
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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 ...more
Nikki
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
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Mohammed
This is my first read of Sayers and her Lord Peter Wimsey and i can see why the series,the character is still read decades after. Wimsey was a good,smart detective without overdoing it and more important he had a humorous side, a personality that was fun to read. Sayers prose, style specially early in the novel was impressive, the strengths of the book.

The weakness of the novel was the detective story when dealing with police detectives. Also she overdid with the too detailed,over-thought wild t
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Dianne
This is a difficult book to read, and I would recommend starting out with a notebook and pencil to follow events.
An aggressive and unpleasant artist is found dead by a burn in Scotland. Lord Peter Wimsey enters the scene and decides that it is a murder. Dorothy Sayers lets her readers know that at the scene there is a clue to be identified. This is reinforced later on and it is easy to identify the culprit if one does not get bamboozled by railway timetables. There are six artist suspects, but f
...more
Katie
Ahh, this one was so boring! Most of the book is theories about what COULD have happened in excruciating detail. And it's set in Scotland and the Scots dialogue is written out, which I find very hard to read. And there are far too many new characters! I could not keep track of them.
Writerlibrarian
This one was difficult in a way I didn't except : the Scottish accent in print. It definitely adds colours and atmosphere but it's a pain to read. The whole five of the six suspects are red herring is interesting but gets a bit muddle near the end. The culprit is found and the police is told in a exquisite reenactment (we are in 1931) that includes missed trains, wayward bicycles and second breakfast. Still, Sayers more average work is better than most mystery novels.
Felisa Rosa
I absolutely adore Dorothy Sayers, but sometimes her plots get a overly detailed and technical. This book suffered from an abundance of train schedules and a severe shortage of Bunter, the world's greatest manservant. Still a good read, though.
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Dorothy L Sayers' mystery with Ian Carmichael as the upper class sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey.

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Tory Wagner
I have a subscription to Mystery Magazine and they had an article about quintessential British mystery writers. One of them was Dorothy Sayers who I vaguely remembered my father enjoying so I thought I'd read one and randomly chose The Five Red Herrings. The main character of this series is Lord Peter Wimsey who, rather in the fashion of Hercule Poirot, uses his gray cells to solve mysteries. Lord Wimsey is much more active however and loves to recreate the crimes rather as a play. This mystery ...more
Dorothea
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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Jessie
This is an example of the police procedural at its most plodding and colorful characterization at its finest. The book takes place in the artist's colony at Galloway district of Scotland in 1930-ish (book published in 1931). An artist is found dead and, as the title indicates, there are six suspects of whom five are "red herrings". Missing suspects, stolen bicycles, Scottish train schedules, and lying witnesses move suspicion from one suspect to the other and back again throughout the book. Saye ...more
Bill Rogers
Och aye, laddie, ye be havin' Lord Peter Whimsey in Scotland wi' the dialog all in dialect, ye see. An' they all be painters an' fishermen wi' their little crochets an' follies, but tha one thing they can all agree on is they hates this lad Campbell and they all wants him dead.

Well, there be six lads could hae done tha dirty deed, besides tourists an' brogan salesman wandering through to muddy tha waters a wee bit mair. That's one lad guilty a' foul murder an' five lookin' guilty but hae nothin'
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Kate
05/01/2012 This is not my favorite Wimsey mystery, but I do thoroughly enjoy it. The alibis hinge on a great deal of cleverness with trains and schedules, but since I don't care much for deciphering those sort of things, I tend to skim (or skip entire) over those bits in favor of Wimsey being brilliant. Perhaps my favorite bit is when Wimsey ren-enacts the murder, complete with a corpse (not a real corpse, but someone standing in for it) to prove that his theory will work. A good, solid mystery ...more
Michael A
Here Sayers writes her first worthy novel -- in my opinion, of course.

The puzzle is done well in an old school sense. Think Christie. We have six closed suspects - some telling the truth, some lying, some doing both of these to suit their needs. The situation is set up well enough and it is relatively more exciting at the beginning than a murder depending on a rich relative's will or something in that vein. A painter is killed and made to look as if he had an accident while painting something cl
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David
Dorothy L. Sayers put a lot of effort into "The Five Red Herrings." First, if the Foreword is to be believed, she's reproduced the areas of Gatehouse and Kirkcudbright (places, trains, landscapes) in tremendous detail. Then, there are the suspects. All six of them. Each with their own stories, tracking them down, and their alibis. Ditto, the trains. My goodness, the trains. Almost all of the tracking and alibis revolve around the trains and she provides all the details about their movement. Plus ...more
Leah
In correct Peter Wimsey order this is my least favourite so far. Wimsey is always entertaining but he hardly shows up in the first two thirds, and the parts where he does are the best by far. Too many policemen P.O.Vs, similar suspects and train times to really engage.
The excellent way of proving the murder saves this one from boringness - the last few chapters are much more enjoyable.
Amy
Jan 07, 2015 Amy marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
It turns out that train time tables are so boring that not even a great writing 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
...more
Rebecca Roy
Incredibly detailed plot, but not enough of the titular dandy detective and co. for my liking. AND NO HARRIET VANE. I suppose that has amped up my excitement for Have His Carcase though.
Julie
Lord Peter Wimsey is visiting an artist community in Scotland and, of course, someone is murdered. He gets pulled into the investigation. 6 people are possible suspects. This novel involves trying to figure out the schedule and timeline for each suspect and figure out who does it. It involves lots of train schedules and times. Very interesting differences in speech patterns here. Scots all talk a different accent from Lord Peter and other English. Also--there is a memorable speech from a witness ...more
K.E. Page
I was looking forward to reading this as Sayers is much admired. However, I found this a real struggle to get through. I found Peter Wimsey intensely annoying. He was all jolly hockey sticks and I'm not sure why the Scottish policemen were so willing to put up with him. At the beginning, I quite enjoyed trying to work out which artist was to blame and which alibi would prove untrue. However, I don't think there was anyway to work out the solution here because it was ridiculously convoluted. I fo ...more
Amy
Ugh. I picked this up because I needed a break from The Singapore Grip and its endless discussions of markets and rubber plantations. I love Lord Peter Wimsy, but there were WAY too many bicycles and train timetables involved and too much indecipherable Scottish dialogue. The chapter where each of the police officers elaborate their theories of the crime was painful.

(view spoiler)
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Audiobooks: Five Red Herrings 5 53 Dec 06, 2013 08:59AM  
Kindle English My...: March 2013 Group Read - Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L sayers 43 50 Mar 27, 2013 11:24AM  
Too long 5 30 Mar 15, 2013 04:30PM  
  • A Presumption of Death (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane, #2)
  • The Singing Sands (Inspector Alan Grant, #6)
  • Police at the Funeral (Albert Campion Mystery #4)
  • Artists in Crime (Roderick Alleyn, #6)
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Dorothy Leigh Sayers (Oxford, 13 June 1893 – Witham, 17 December 1957) was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.

Dorothy L. Sayers is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. However, Sayers herse
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More about Dorothy L. Sayers...

Other Books in the Series

Lord Peter Wimsey (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #1)
  • Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #2)
  • Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #3)
  • Lord Peter Views the Body (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #4)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
  • Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #6)
  • Have His Carcase  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #8)
  • Hangman's Holiday: A Collection of Short Mysteries (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #9)
  • Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #10)
  • The Nine Tailors (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #11)
Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #1) Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #6) Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #3) Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #10) Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #12)

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“Still, it doesn't do to murder people, no matter how offensive they may be.” 47 likes
“I think the most joyous thing in life is to loaf around and watch another bloke do a job of work. Look how popular are the men who dig up London with electric drills. Duke's son, cook's son, son of a hundred kings, people will stand there for hours on end, ear drums splitting. Why? Simply for the pleasure of being idle while watching other people work.” 7 likes
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