Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #7)” as Want to Read:
Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, #7)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Five Red Herrings (Lord Peter Wimsey #7)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  7,202 ratings  ·  254 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, a...more
Paperback, 354 pages
Published September 14th 1995 by HarperTorch (first published 1931)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Five Red Herrings, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Five Red Herrings

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieAngels & Demons by Dan BrownRebecca by Daphne du MaurierIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Best Crime & Mystery Books
269th out of 4,401 books — 10,076 voters
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha ChristieThe Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleAnd Then There Were None by Agatha ChristieDeath on the Nile by Agatha ChristieThe Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Best British Crime/Mystery Fiction
75th out of 796 books — 775 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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...more
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.
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...more
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
Nov 28, 2007 John rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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
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.
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Dorothy L Sayers' mystery with Ian Carmichael as the upper class sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey.

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...more
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
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
The one star is in part because of the terrible audio book narrator. All of his faux Scottish accents sound awful: the whiny music-hall Scot, the bumbling talks-in-his-moustache high official, the ones who can't decide whether they're Scots or from Lankashyeer. Ugh. This is NOT Ian Carmichael.

Five Red Herrings is not my favourite Wimsey, given the preponderance of trains, cars, bicycles, and "how long would it take to get from here to there" scenarios. Too much like those awful story problems th...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...more
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
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.
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)...more
Yeesh this one was a slog. My least favorite Wimsey so far and I consider myself a fan. The story just did not grab me and the Scottish accents I found well drawn but hard to read. There was a scene where a Scotsman spoke to a man with a lisp and the dialogue was nearly impossible to follow. There was also scarcely any Bunter in this book, and no Miss Climpson or Harriet Vane at all which was extremely disappointing. Delightful though Lord Peter is on his own, his cadre of accomplices really add...more
This is a rather complicated tale with bikes and train schedules and artists who disappear just when they are most needed for questioning. Not my favorite of Lord Peter's adventures - just too many moving parts, but that is the point of the story, I suppose. I am always struck by how deeply Lord Peter feels the consequences of his sleuthing. For the most part, it is an enjoyable obsession, entertaining, absorbing - as any good hobby should be. Then, someone is arrested and in at least some of hi...more
The funny thing about Dorothy Sayers mysteries is that somehow in the intellectual process of solving the mystery, death itself becomes rather abstract. Unlike psychological mysteries or modern police procedurals that get at the ugliness of the murder, with the Peter Wimsey mysteries, the death and the murderer aren't necessarily prominent parts of plot. Reading a Sayers mystery is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle--lots of little details, painstakingly examined, and slowly linked together....more
It's interesting to research the question of where the term 'red herring' came from. Because one encounters it most in mystery stories, the tendency is to argue that the term came from people trying to escape being coursed by hounds. By dragging red herrings across the trail, it's argued, the escapees were able to confuse the dogs, and send them off on the wrong trail.

All very well, except that this term is not consistent with how people actually DID try to mislead pursuers with dogs. The eviden...more
Is there anything more fun than a mystery novel? (Mystery movies won’t be counted as answers to this purely rhetorical question.) Seriously, though, mysteries are good for logical and analytical thinking and moral convictions, not to mention whiling a few hours away in fun and excitment!

The Story.

When Campbell’s body is found lifeless in the burn by Minnoch River, the police have no reason to suspect that his death was aught but an accident. It would be very easy for a man painting so near the c...more
Short review: Skip this one unless you're a die-hard Sayers fan.

The longer story: I was warned off this novel by a fellow Wimsey aficionado, but the warning appeared after I'd already purchased the book. I waited until this was the last non-read Sayers tome on the shelf, and dove in with a bit of skepticism. The book does have a very promising premise: the least-charming member of an artists' colony is found dead, and any number of his neighbors have a good reason for offing him. The staged "acc...more
I needed quite some time to read this book and took some breaks inbetween where I read something different or nothing at all. That wasn't just the book's fault. Life's been a bit chaotic and I simply might be oversaturated with golden-age/cozy crime as I read I a lot recently (but also: I'd just read Strong Poison and found Harriet awesome and now she's not in this book and I'm disappointed).
In any case this is a book that should be read quite quickly because otherwise it's rather confusing. The...more
Victoria Mixon
The problem with Dorothy L. Sayers isn't whether or not she was good. She was. The problem was that she knew it.

So when she came to write Five Red Herrings (sold in the U.S. for some reason under the title Suspicious Characters), it wasn't enough to have designed a rollicking good mystery in which the reader is told right up front, "The murderer is one of these six characters." It wasn't even enough to have spent time in the obscure little Scottish backwater where the mystery is set perfecting...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
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)
  • A Shilling for Candles (Inspector Alan Grant #2)
  • Enter a Murderer (Roderick Alleyn, #2)
  • Police at the Funeral (Albert Campion Mystery #4)
  • The Case Is Closed (Miss Silver, #2)
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...more
More about Dorothy L. Sayers...
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)

Share This Book

“Still, it doesn't do to murder people, no matter how offensive they may be.” 44 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
More quotes…