Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Five Red Herrings

The Five Red Herrings

Dorothy L. Sayers

  —   $6.99   —   Book

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Fiction, Mystery

When the body of a well-known - and not particularly liked - artist is found tumbled down into a rocky stream, it at first looks like an accident. But the rigidity of the body says that he couldn't have possibly died after witnesses last saw him, and there's one other discrepancy that points to murder...

The problem, of course, is to find out who. The victim was a very abrasive man, and there are no fewer than six likely suspects, each with a correspondingly weak alibi. To make matters worse, there's train schedules, bicycles missing everywhere, and numerous reasons for murder. Everyone has a theory, but only one man did the deed.

Lord Peter Wimsey is as whimsical as ever. This is, perhaps, too elaborate a mystery; even the map at the beginning of the book doesn't help sort the changes. No doubt when Sayers wrote the novel, readers would be more familiar with the mental math needed to get one's connections when travelling by rail, but these days very few people worry about more than one transfer on a route, so the elaborate paths are not as readily grasped. It's enjoyable nonetheless.

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