Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers

First Line: Lord Peter Wimsey stretched himself luxuriously between the sheets provided by the Hôtel Meurice.

All is not well at Riddlesdale Lodge, a Wimsey family retreat for country pleasures and the thrill of the hunt. Lord Peter's brother-in-law-to-be is dead, and his accused murderer is Wimsey's own brother. Lord Peter has his hands full with this all-in-the-family murder.

I continue to stumble my way through Golden Age mysteries in an attempt to understand what so many other readers enjoy in them. So far, my only real success has been with Gladys Mitchell's Mrs. Bradley, but I am determined to emerge triumphant with Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey. I have to admit that it's been a bit of a hard slog. Perhaps I should just jump ahead to the book in which Harriet Vane makes her appearance?

The largest part of Lord Peter's investigation in Clouds of Witness seemed to be crawling around on the floor staring at the carpet, and I was about ready to admit defeat when Wimsey's sister finally decided to tell the truth. Then the mystery really began to get somewhere

I am glad that I soldiered on to the end because I do see glimmers of what this series will be in snippets of conversation between characters, and that "lost in the fog in the bog" scene is marvelous.  I do enjoy historical mysteries, but I am most definitely a 21st-century reader, so I do sometimes doubt the wisdom behind my dabbling into these fabled waters... but it is for the very reason that these mysteries are fabled that I can't leave them alone!
Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers
Amazon Digital Services © 2013
Originally published in 1926.
eBook, 279 pages

Private Investigator, #2 Lord Peter Wimsey mystery
Rating: C+
Source: Purchased from Amazon. 



  1. Honestly, Cathy, I didn't think this was Sayers' best, either. I prefer the books with Harriet Vane. Still, as you say, some things are done well here.

    1. Something tells me I should just jump ahead to Harriet... but won't meeting her be that much sweeter after "paying my dues"?

  2. There are times when I think that writers in earlier times were published before they actually had developed the necessary skills to make them good. You hear of editors 'developing' writers in the old days. They don't have the time to do that anymore, which is why so many first novels seem so much more polished than ones written seventy years ago. (That also explains the modern phenomenon of the second novel slump--the fact that second novels seem to be a lot less polished than first novels, because the second novel, timed to come out the next year, comes to print without all that time to polish that the first novel had.)

    Sayers does get better. I guess the older way of bringing an author along does take a little getting used to when modern authors have to have it nailed to get in the door these days.

    1. I do not envy today's authors, especially when I remember reading a biography of Maxwell Perkins, probably one of the best editors who ever lived. David Morrell's short story "The Architecture of Snow" talked quite eloquently about this.


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