Reading the Detectives discussion

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Group Challenges > Five Red Herrings - SPOILER Thread

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message 1: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
As before, this thread can be used to discuss any spoilers openly. If you haven't yet finished the book and (understandably) do not want to have the ending spoilt for you, then stick to the general thread until you have finished.
Thanks everyone. Enjoy!


message 2: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments About three fourths through with this month's re-read!


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Done- finally. This WAS enjoyable. I found the end satisfactory too- at first I wondered about motive, but the accidental "heat of the moment" explanation tied it up very neatly.


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments One favourite para (as usual, I never remember to mark them all):
One of my favourite bits

“The road from Kirkcudbright to Newton-Stewart is of a varied loveliness hard to surpass, and with a sky full of bright sun and rolling cloud-banks, hedges filled with flowers, a well-made road, a lively engine and the prospect of a good corpse at the end of it, Lord Peter's cup of happiness was full. He was a man who loved simple pleasures.”


message 5: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
This was much more a 'mystery' than the last book, wasn't it? I did feel it got a big bogged down, but if you enjoy making notes and working out possible suspects, it was brilliant. I wonder if there was a little criticism at the time about characters, rather than plot, so she went back to the traditional, or whether she just wanted to create a puzzle for readers to work out?


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Susan wrote: "This was much more a 'mystery' than the last book, wasn't it? I did feel it got a big bogged down, but if you enjoy making notes and working out possible suspects, it was brilliant. I wonder if the..."

It was- I think it would have been interesting to work the puzzle out- she did give the paint in the pocket clue- but I'm not sure I would have picked up on the missing white paint, unless I was really paying attention. But I enjoyed the timelines and the characters working out who could possibly be guilty- but I didn't really try and work out the puzzle with them.

As characters go, there were some interesting ones here too (not as much as in Strong Poison, perhaps) but the whole notion f a village where one either paints or fishes or both was interesting.


message 7: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2924 comments Mod
I enjoyed the book more as I got further into it. I finally could identify the suspects with a bit of thought. I found it amusing as each showed up with his rather weak alibi and the recreation of the murder was quite funny. Not sure it was really necessary but Sayers had fun with the poor "corpse". Most of the suspects' stories were humorous as well: the lost beard, the disastrous boat trip, the eager lady friend, the wandering husband.


message 8: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments I did like the ending where, after all the other posed their solution, Lord P pipes up and says that they are all wrong! (Though some less wrong than the others.) He goes on to say that this is the proudest moment of his life (presumably to date!)


Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Sandy wrote: "I enjoyed the book more as I got further into it. I finally could identify the suspects with a bit of thought. I found it amusing as each showed up with his rather weak alibi and the recreation of ..."

I enjoyed the recreation parts as well- it was serious business in on way but on the other, it was great fun too.


message 10: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 63 comments Finally!...I finished and get to join this discussion. Agree with previous comments, this wasn't my favorite Sayers, although I haven't read that many. I think she had a lot of fun crafting it though. I picture her poring over maps and time-schedules, real and of her own making, working out a timeline, then building a story around it. Her characters, at least the six suspects, had to fit a timeline. That could explain their lack of personality. That and the fact that they're all artists.

Going in, I was hopeful. The title specified red herrings..oh good, a blatant challenge, I must be on the alert. The TOC sounded playful...the victim alive and the victim dead, the suspects' stories early on and the suspects' stories later on. But I soon felt overwhelmed by details, times and places that all seemed important and I was not engaged. I needed a reason to keep reading. That is when I decided to attend to Sayers' text, specifically to any text that struck me as minimal, obscure, hardly important. In this way I made a few guesses and thought I knew the name of the murderer a third of the way, and from then on I just read to see how she wrote about him. Indeed, she minimized his role, and I was more and more certain.

After this text, I narrowed it down to the other F (Ferguson) and the two G's:

“talkin’ a’ready aboot the quarrel wi’ Waters . . . ay, an’ wi’ Farren . . . ay . . . ay . . . an’ there’s a story about Strachan bein’ over in Creetown the nicht of the crime speirin’ after Farren . . . I doot we’ll no be able to keep the thing hushed”

After this line, I ruled out Gowan:

“They’ll no have forgotten Gowan, wi’ his big black beard. It’s a queer thing he should suddenly be wantin’ tae spend two-three hours in Carlisle waitin’ for a train tae”

After this, I ruled out the other G (Graham) and felt, because of the benign aside, that it must be Ferguson:

“Graham and Strachan,’ went on the Chief Constable, were both out all night, as you know, and have no explanations. Ferguson appears, from what you say, to be all right, but he”

I've never read a mystery quite like this, but I wound up enjoying it. Thankfully, the author spelled out the events in a very entertaining way at the end.


message 11: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Linda wrote: "I think she had a lot of fun crafting it though. I picture her poring over maps and time-schedules, real and of her own making, working out a timeline, then building a story around it. ."

The geography is mostly or entirely accurate; I had fun during one read tracking it all on Google maps. Don't know about the timetables.


message 12: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
I am so impressed with everyone; even turning to Google maps! I must admit I rarely try to work these things out, but it might work better if you do try to tackle the puzzles I think.


message 13: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 63 comments That's so interesting, Everyman. I was unaware that the train schedules were real, so I'm glad you mention it. I can see how someone familiar with the geography would get a much richer experience. I used to commute by train and knew every stop; when I think of a mystery being tied to its schedule, I know I would be engrossed in the details.


message 14: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9274 comments Mod
I've finally finished this now and can join the spoiler thread too! Must say I found it a real struggle to read - I just couldn't remember who the various suspects were or who had done what, and had to keep turning back through the pages. I also couldn't keep track of the rail timetables.

I'm so impressed by all our expert sleuths here and by the way you worked it out, Linda! I had no idea who had done it. I will admit I found the solution a bit random, though - I rather like the solutions to hinge on a surprise twist or secret which nobody except the detective has spotted!


message 15: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9274 comments Mod
My theory was that it would have to be Waters, because somewhere along the line Peter says he would like to write a book with a lot of red herrings, when in the end it turns out to the obvious suspect from the start. But obviously Sayers was teasing there!


message 16: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
I rarely try to work out mysteries, but this was obviously intended to be a puzzle that you sat down with and tried to solve.


message 17: by Chris (new)

Chris Rogers (chrisdinesenrogers) | 2 comments My husband is an oil painter. He figured out the important clue right away. Funny, as a watercolor painter, I did not.


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
Interesting point, Chris. I can imagine that would give the reader an edge!


message 19: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 63 comments Chris, I'm so glad to know your husband figured out the white paint tube early on. I remember there was a suggestion that Wimsey was looking for something at the crime scene. It seemed impossible to know what he was thinking. But it wasn't impossible. I now know of one reader who got it. Any others?


message 20: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
I had an idea it had something to do with paint - a tube, the top of a tube, a particular colour - but I wasn't sure.


message 21: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2924 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "Chris, I'm so glad to know your husband figured out the white paint tube early on. I remember there was a suggestion that Wimsey was looking for something at the crime scene. It seemed impossible t..."
I remembered from the tv show, so no credit!


message 22: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9274 comments Mod
I wondered if it was some type of brush!


message 23: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Linda wrote: "I now know of one reader who got it. Any others?.."

I had no idea. Obviously something was missing, but I couldn't figure out what.

The missing item seems to be a favorite of Sayers -- remember that a key element of the Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club was (although we read this here already, some might not have so I'll stick this in as a spoiler) (view spoiler) In that case, as here, Wimsey, after examining some element of the scene, asks whether that's really all there was to find.

In future, we are now thoroughly advised that if Wimsey looks around for something he doesn't find, look out, that's going to be a major clue!


message 24: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 63 comments Judy! I briefly wondered brush too...but too unsure to mention it.


message 25: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 63 comments Susan, I see that, thinking paint. There was a reference later on to cobalt blue, and I wondered if I'd missed something about blue paint.


message 26: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 63 comments Sandy, and others: How was it reading the tie-up at the end when you knew whodunit? I for one (thinking I knew) really enjoyed the four Lord Wimsey chapters at the end BECAUSE I knew. I'd say I appreciate Wimsey's wit and humor and flair for drama more after FRH. Usually I just read to find out the solution.


message 27: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 63 comments Good point, Everyman. From now on I will take all of Wimsey's passing thoughts seriously and not let them drop out of mind.


message 28: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
I did think it was something to do with the painting and so it did occur to me that someone had copied his style - but I would never have guessed that without LP's friend demonstrating how he could copy another artist's style previously.


message 29: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 104 comments I finished this last evening. The Scottish dialect slowed me down quite a bit. I didn't figure out the white paint. I rather enjoyed the reenactment. It seemed like Sayers was having fun at that point,


message 30: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2924 comments Mod
I didn't really remember who did it until Wimsey's summary. Then, knowing the guilty party, I enjoyed his discomfort during the reenactment. I think Wimsey involved him in the reenactment hoping he would confess and make it easier oh himself..


message 31: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joannegw) | 35 comments This book was a struggle for me. The puzzle took over the book, plus the Scottish dialect further slowed down the reading process. Not enough Wimsey and Bunter. I read about 2/3 of the book, then cheated my way to the end to get the payoff. It might work better as a movie where you can see the lovely scenery and the hypothetical scenarios acted out. But I'm looking forward to the next Sayers!


message 32: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments I had a problem with the dialect as well and, I'm afraid, just glossed over that, since I knew the plot and outcome pretty well already. Not my favorite of the books, though Carcase, coming up, is one of them.


message 33: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
It seems that a few of us struggled with this mystery. Just out of interest, which book has been your favourite so far? (Not including books to come, as some of us may not have read them yet).


message 34: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments I think Strong Poison was my favorite so far.


message 35: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments I think I like Bellona Club and Unnatural Death best...


message 36: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 876 comments I liked Strong Poison best as well—but I haven’t had a chance to start Five Red Herrings yet!


message 37: by Nadine (new)

Nadine Sutton | 197 comments never liked it much. I am not good at clues, and this was mostly a "plot driven" story, so I just never bothered to read it more than once.. In fact I don't think Iv'e ever read it all the way


message 38: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 9274 comments Mod
Strong Poison is my favourite so far too - I also liked Clouds of Witness a lot.


message 39: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Unlike others, quite liked this one. Strong Poison I liked for its characters and I remember liking Clouds of Witness too though I've read it earlier not with the group.


message 40: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
I think I would agree with Clouds of Witness and Strong Poison so far. I thought both were wonderful.


message 41: by Diane (new)

Diane | 65 comments I was sure that one person murdered Campbell but that the whole group was deliberately covering for him. That everyone was leaving town and having weak or difficult to prove aliabies struck me as a collaborative effort to obfuscate the facts.
Oh well. Some day I'll figure out the ending of a mystery book.


message 42: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
I rarely try, Diane; but, if I do, I'm never right either, so it isn't just you - don't worry :)


message 43: by Mark Pghfan (new)

Mark Pghfan | 366 comments Diane, that sounds like a good plot for a book. You should try it out!
(I know similar things have been done, but still...)


message 44: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Diane wrote: "I was sure that one person murdered Campbell but that the whole group was deliberately covering for him. That everyone was leaving town and having weak or difficult to prove aliabies struck me as a..."

I realised if I looked back to figure out who put stuff in their pockets and tallied the timelines, I might have got the answer but was too lazy to do it so I just let DLS tell me :)


message 45: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments The latter more than the former since I couldn't have guessed what was missing knowing next to nothing about painting.


message 46: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 540 comments Diane wrote: Oh well. Some day I'll figure out the ending of a mystery book..."

I just read Sayers's Secret Agent, since it was a nominee here, and very unusually for me I figured out the identity of the secret agent in the first half of the book. And was right.

But that's rare for me, and surprised me because Sayers is usually supposed to be hard to figure out.


message 47: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 876 comments Faint but pursuing; just finished Five Red Herrings. Here are my notes:

I enjoyed the setting of the story (Scotland, in an area devoted to fishing and plein-air painters) and the personalities of the various suspects, and for a long time the book carried me along. It is full of complexities—alibis, railroad timetables, geographic details—and I mostly surfed the wave of all this specificity without diving under the surface.

I had been alerted to watch for a couple of crucial details (and if I hadn’t been, the regrettable cover of my New English Library paperback emphasized them for me), so I picked up on what was important and what was, in reference to the title, a red herring. But the actual “how” of the crime eluded me until it was laid out at the end.

The end, nevertheless, was what knocked the book down a few notches for me. There’s a painfully long scene in which each person involved in the investigation gives a different theory of who did it, how, and why; and then there’s an almost equally painfully long re-creation of the crime as it actually happened. At this point, having waded through more than two hundred pages of Scottish brogue, I was ready for it to be over! That endless reveal just bored me, I’m sorry to say.


message 48: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10344 comments Mod
Abigail, you were not alone! A lot of us were glazing over by that point, don't worry....


message 49: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1172 comments Abigail wrote: "Faint but pursuing; just finished Five Red Herrings. Here are my notes:

I enjoyed the setting of the story (Scotland, in an area devoted to fishing and plein-air painters) and the personalities of..."


I quite liked that she discussed the different scenarios and did like the recreation but will agree that it needn't have been stretched so long.


message 50: by Helen (new)

Helen (read247_instyle_inca) (read247_instyle_inca) | 10 comments I have to admit I am thankful I finished! I had a very hard time with the Scottish dialect, and did skip over quite a bit of it. I felt it dragged on quite a bit, looks like others felt the same.


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