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I remember finding this book a bit boring when I first read in it my late teens and as a result I haven't re-read until now. I actually enjoyed this re-reading. There is a great deal of humour in it one way and another and some of the dialogue made me laugh.

An artist is found dead and at first it looks as though he could have simply slipped and fallen down some rocks into a stream but Peter Wimsey is sure it is murder because of something missing from the scene. The 'something missing' is carefully omitted at that point so that the reader has to work it out for themselves. I didn't work it out until much later in the story - others will probably work it out sooner!

There are plenty of suspects as just about all his fellow artists in the area have fallen out with him at some point or other. What's more most of them seem to have left the area at about the time of the murder and the police temporarily have no suspects to interview.

Wimsey is as puzzled as the police and sets about sleuthing in his own inimitable fashion to the annoyance of some and the amusement of others. I think my favourite part of the book was the reconstruction of the crime - which is really funny. I also liked the running theme of the various bicycles and train journey involved in the case.

If you want a murder mystery which will make you work hard to try and solve it along with Wimsey and the police characters then try this one but you will really have to concentrate and be able to remember all the various suspects and the sequence of events - not to speak of the lies and misinformation from most of the characters at one time or another.
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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 he slipped an hit his head – or was he murdered? Lord Peter sets off in pursuit of the answer.

This mystery involves six suspects, all artists who knew and who had argued with Campbell for different reasons. They are Hugh Farren, Henry Strachan, Matthew Gowan, Jock Graham, Michael Waters and John Ferguson. The problem is that all of them are possibly guilty of the crime and Lord Peter, and the police, are left to untangle all the different alibi’s and motives. This was not my favourite Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, but it was still a good read. As always, Lord Peter solves the crime and the location is an enjoyable one. At times, though, the endless lists of suspects and alibi’s got a little tedious. Lord Peter really brings the book alive, when the plot drags though and this is still a good addition to the series.
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on 10 April 2017
This is a pure mental puzzle book. It is full of place names, train times and odd little clues which are the backdrop to the puzzle. There are several suspects all of whom behave oddly so figuring out whodunnit is tricky All good fun though
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on 23 April 2017
Although well written, I found it didn't engage my interest fully. I had bought it as I was challenged to read a book set in an area where I was visiting, and having been to the Rinns of Galloway, it was fun to read about the area and recognise the names of the towns. However, I will not be tempted to reread this.
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on 14 May 2017
Not one of Sayers best and got bogged down in all the train timetables and stuff but interesting if only for its detail of the location.
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Five Red Herrings is the seventh Lord Peter Wimsey novel, published in 1931. The first edition in the US was called `Suspicious Characters' but later the original title was used.
Sayers set the book in Galloway, an area which she sometimes visited on holiday and the locations are real. She said that she promised her landlord that one day she would write a book set in the area.
Sandy Campbell, the murder victim, was a talented painter. He was also a quarrelsome drunk. He is found dead, appearing to have fallen into a stream and fractured his skull, leaving a half-finished painting on the bank. Lord Peter is on a fishing holiday in the same area. He is called in and points out something which makes it impossible for Campbell to have done the painting, though Sayers teases us that, since readers should have noticed what the clue is, she won't mention it! Unfair!
Campbell has been murdered and his killer, according to Wimsey,painted the picture in his style, to make the death seem an accident. There are six artists locally who could have done it and who have quarrelled with Campbell. One, then, is the murderer and the others are the `five red herrings.' All are acting suspiciously, in one way or another; all seem OK people but however richly Campbell deserved his fate, the murder must be solved so that the others can live free of suspicion.
The Five Red Herrings is the Peter Wimsey story which is most obviously set as a puzzle for the reader. The plot is told from a variety of viewpoints - Wimsey, various highly competent police officers, the wonderful Bunter. Thus, Wimsey and Bunter are a bit less central to the story than in other novels.
Dorothy Sayers often depicted groups of individuals, whether artists, policemen, advertising executives, et al. She always does this in an interesting and incisive way. Her depiction of place is always good and Scotland comes alive even to someone like myself who isn't too keen on the place!
It does seem odd that this book was written after `Strong Poison' which began Peter's romance with Harriet Vane. She isn't in this book at all. Instead, this is quite a cerebral book in which Wimsey has no particular emotional involvement. There is a lot of detail about the movements of each suspect, involving railway timetables, and unless you are a lover of detail, this is all a bit boring, frankly. There's also a good bit of tedious dialect. It is all very clever - but I wasn't sure how much I cared. Wimsey is an attractive, indeed sexy, hero, in his upper-crust way, but this book is primarily a complex puzzle which does not engage on an emotional level. Wimsey's wit and pithy sayings are very appealing, though, and the devoted and resourceful Bunter is a delight, not least because of his beautifully dignified verbosity.
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on 27 December 2002
The five red herrings of the title are five of six artists suspected of the murder of the most unpopular member of an artists’ colony in Scotland; the sixth is, of course, the murderer. (Unusually for Sayers, this is a “whodunit,” rather than a “howdunnit.”) Wimsey, holidaying in Scotland, assists the local police, foremost among them Inspector Macpherson, who, although Scottish, is really French (perhaps he went over after Culloden?). This is fitting, for this, the most Croftsian of all Sayers’ novels, is a map (unfortunately very poorly reproduced) and train puzzle, complete with boats and bicycles. Although slower-moving than other Sayers novels, it is, like all her books, immensely satisfying: she has the rare gift of grabbing the reader’s attention and never letting go. A great deal of entertainment is to be derived from the vanishing beard of Matthew Gowan, and there is an excellent scene between Wimsey and the artist Strachan on the cliffs, in the course of which Wimsey is nearly murdered. In the end, Wimsey, arguing from an object not found at the scene of the crime (although hinted at throughout), is, like the illustrious Dr. Thorndyke, able to deduce four characteristics of the murderer, whose complicated alibi borrows and improves on J.J. Connington’s The Two Tickets Puzzle (not a hard task, mind you!). The only regret the reader has with this tale is the excess of phonetically-rendered Scottish dialect, for D.L.S. lacks Gladys Mitchell’s abilities.
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on 31 March 2001
This 10-tape publication is the size of a hefty hardback, but it has pride of place on my shelves! I hadn't appreciated just how gifted Patrick Malahide is as a voice actor until I heard this Chivers recording. He injects life & soul into the characters & brings definition to each one - together with just enough Scots accents to transport you straight to Galloway and the McClellan Arms. Most importantly, for me, Malahide clearly understands Sayers' dry humour & he has a sure touch in bringing it into the reading. It's the only recording of her work that has me laughing out loud at her wit. A pure pleasure to listen to from start to finish!
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on 18 October 2012
Number seven Wimsey. Feels like no. seventy! Comedy Scots accents (we dinny talk like that ye ken) and dialogue interspersed through this turgid story. Another mercifully short-lived character has, for some reason, a lithp and every thingle thilibant thound he utterth ith thpelt like thith. What on earth wath the thinking???

Detail enough provided to drown several herds of elephants ~ and the reader's capacity to keep upsides with what's presented as possible constructs. Till now I'd not realised quite how variable in quality was Sayers' work. I do hope there are none worse than this dross!

Its one saving grace is it's cheaper than the others, "only" £4.99 or so. "Whiskey" is either American rye or Irish, in Scotland it's "whisky" which Miss Sayers gets wrong all the way through. "9 Tailors" is excellent, but this piece of boring awfulness is best left till you feel you must read it to complete your Wimsey collection. Even then I'd not bother, shallow characterisations and ludicrous plot make this the worst read I had thus far in 2012.
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on 13 November 2013
I read these books with a smile on my face and this one was complicated and testing. At one time I thought everyone in the village was in on the murder and the denouement was a pleasure to read. I recommend the Lord Peter Wimsey novels to one and all, they are a delight.
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