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The Five Red Herrings

(Lord Peter Wimsey #6)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  12,869 ratings  ·  889 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, all o ...more
Paperback, 354 pages
Published September 14th 1995 by HarperTorch (first published March 1931)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  12,869 ratings  ·  889 reviews

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Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2018-completed
In this, the seventh novel of the Lord Peter Wimsey series, Dorothy L. Sayers has surpassed herself. We have the murder of an artist who drinks too much, quarrels with everyone, and is obnoxious to all without bias.

We have Lord Peter visiting friends in the neighbourhood who realizes right away that the murderer had to have been another artist. We have a police force with several interesting personnel who are all doing their part to discover which one (or combination) of the six suspects is the
mark monday
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: murdertime
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.
Oct 28, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-mystery
I'm finished, thankfully. This is the worst story I've read by Sayers. She is up and down for me, some of her novels with Lord Peter Wimsey are outstanding. Some are middling. This one is terrible. There is much ado about train schedules and bicycle routes that goes on for days it seemed like. There were also 5 artists (the red herrings of the title) who could be the murderer who I could barely tell apart. Life's too short for this. ...more
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-shelf
I can't believe I gave two stars to a Peter Wimsey novel. Why only two stars? Well, Lord Wimsey is on a little fishing vacation in Scotland. There was a murder and Peter gets involved. Since the setting is in Scotland, the author attempted to add authenticity by having the local characters speak with a Scottish brougue. There were paragraphs of dialogue written with a thick accent. It slowed my reading progress down to the point where I lost the thread of the story. Then, there was an overly com ...more
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 15, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Does anyone else watch Endeavour? There’s a part where Morse’s mentor tells him that he might be able to come up with brilliant theories and connections, but the actual police work, the grunt fact checking stuff, has to get done too, and frankly, he sucks at it.

..Well that’s as it may be, as Lord Peter would say, but while it may make for a better policeman, it makes for a boring novel. Like... how do you look at Peter Wimsey stories and weirdly decide that what’s wrong with them is that there s
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lord Peter Wimsey is on holiday in Galloway, where people either fish or paint – and some do both. The artistic centre of Galloway is Kirkcudbright and there are many artists in the area. One evening there is an argument between a Scottish painter, called Campbell, and an English artist, named Waters. However, this was not unusual – Campbell being an argumentative man, who regularly caused trouble and fell out with his neighbours. The next morning, Campbell is found dead. Was he painting, when h ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
I loved the ending of this book, but the rest of it? Well, it's not a typical Dorothy L Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey. We didn't see so much of Lord Peter's character and foibles: Bunter played a very minor role and that mainly as Lord Peter's manservant; nor did we see much of our other regular characters. This may have been because of the location, Scotland. But the whole writing style seemed completely different to the previous Lord Peter murder mysteries I have read.

I did not enjoy the timelines
Sep 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners

Description: 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
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
In the meantime, a constable had rounded up the undertaker, who arrived in great excitement, swallowing the last fragments of his tea. A slight further delay was caused by its occurring to somebody that the Fiscal should be notified. The Fiscal, fortunately enough, happened to be in the town, and joined the party, explaining to Wimsey as they drove along to the mortuary that it was the most painful case he had handled in the whole of his experience, and that he had been much struck by the superi ...more
Wanda Pedersen
Give this volume about 3.5 stars, I think. For me, it has been the least enjoyable installment of Lord Peter Wimsey. And still, it had its great moments. Dorothy Sayers is the only author that I have read who had produced Scots dialog on the page that hasn’t annoyed me to death! I found it was effective and even a bit humorous from time to time.

Where this book fell down for me was the intricacy of the clues. I know that Sayers prided herself on not “cheating,” giving the reader all the clues th
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
Dec 27, 2014 marked it as abandoned
It turns out that train time tables are so boring that not even a great writer 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 r
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Cindy Rollins
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, reread, 2019
For many people this is not a popular Lord Peter book but I have always enjoyed it. The puzzle was daunting and not that interesting but the writing was good and the humor subtle.
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, crime
Five Red Herrings does a couple of things that really annoy me, like having a long section of people positing obviously wrong ways the crime unfolded, and the whole “the reader will of course know what the missing object was” bit — no, I don’t! I’m not a painter, I don’t have that education, and I don’t know how common it would’ve been in Sayers’ time, but knowing that fact has not lasted.

In any case, reading it this time, I did enjoy Five Red Herrings more than I did last time, perhaps. The int
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
“The more you hate everybody for hating you, the more unattractive you grow and the more they hate you.”

By her own admission (elsewhere), in this book, “the plot was invented to fit a real locality.”

Apparently, written to please her Scottish friends, this is a Sudoku puzzle of clues spread through several hundred pages of prose. Not one or two but five false trails are explored and discarded. Dreary. The least pleasing Wimsey mystery to date.

“This English habit of rushing into situations on a h
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
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
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
My least favourite. I got lost among all the bicycles and train timetables.
Apr 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
4-stars and I'm being a week bit generous because this book took FOREVER for me to finish and I failed utterly at keeping track of all the characters. But there were moments that were absolutely genius and fun to read, making this one a genuinely hard book to rate.
Campbell is dead and, unfortunately, almost everyone wanted him so. 6 suspects emerge, but each with an even less likely alibi. Good thing famed sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey is staying nearby taking a fishing holiday! But will even he be
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, re-read
This is a solid mystery novel, very detailed, very well planned, but it didn't work particularly well for me this time around. I like the idea behind the book - a man who is fairly universally disliked is murdered, and six people have more or less equally terrible alibis. But something in the execution falls a bit flat. Perhaps it's the reread, but I suspect it's due to a combination of other factors, notably:

1. There's very little Lord Peter being, well, Lord Peter (for lack of a better descrip
Sep 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
I got two very different comments about this book before reading it. One person said it bored her to tears. The other person (my aunt, who lent it to me) was enthusiastic about how fun and clever and Scottish it was and thought I'd like it very much.

And I guess I'm siding with my aunt. Family ties and all. xD

For real, though, it WAS fun. There were boring bits - a couple chapters where they're tracing movements and train tickets and calculating times - but I almost like them just because they fe
Nov 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Robin Stevens
Nov 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Writing a murder mystery where all of the suspects are basically the same character is a bold move. I've done it in Jolly Foul Play, so I guess I can't fault Sayers for doing it too, but ... my personal ability to differentiate between six Scottish young white adult male artists with facial hair is LOW and so I was on the back foot from the beginning. I'm not saying this isn't a great mystery story, because it is, with a clever solution - it was just a lot more confusing to me than most of her o ...more
3.5 stars
This book has had a very bad press: it's complicated, it's all about the puzzle, it's too cerebral, Wimsey pockets a clue, but you'll only know that if you are an experienced artist, there's no love interest...etc etc.

But that's not what the book is actually about.

I gave a talk about what this book meant to Sayers, for a series entitled "The Geography of Literature", which I've put up on my resurrected blog here.
Jazzy Lemon
Lord Peter Wimsey goes to Kirkcudbright on the West Coast of Scotland and gets stuck in a case involving artists, cyclists, and train timetables.

My favourite so far!
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
2.5 stars rounding up. The Five Red Herrings took me forever to read! I'm not sure if it was the very convoluted mystery that delved into train timetables, stolen bikes, tickets punches, drawing times, etc. or the brilliant yet annoying-to-read phonetic Scottish dialect. I've heard that you don't have to read the Lord Peter Wimsey series in order so I would recommend skipping this one... ...more
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the full cast audio version of this Sayers classic with Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter. The mystery centers on the murder of an artist in a Scottish town. Another artist must have committed the murder. Train tables receive quite a bit of attention. Many people criticize these, but I'm not familiar enough with them to do so. In the end each investigator comes up with his own theory, but Lord Peter, of course, solves the problem. ...more
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Audiobooks: Five Red Herrings 5 59 Dec 06, 2013 08:59AM  
Too long 5 36 Mar 15, 2013 04:30PM  

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Dorothy Leigh Sayers 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 herself considered her translation of Dante's Divina Co

Other books in the series

Lord Peter Wimsey (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • Whose Body?  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #1)
  • Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey, #2)
  • Unnatural Death (Lord Peter Wimsey, #3)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Lord Peter Wimsey, #4)
  • Strong Poison (Lord Peter Wimsey, #5)
  • Have His Carcase (Lord Peter Wimsey, #7)
  • Murder Must Advertise  (Lord Peter Wimsey, #8)
  • The Nine Tailors (Lord Peter Wimsey, #9)
  • Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey, #10)
  • Busman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey, #11)

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