Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers was published in 1926. It is the second book after Whose Body? in the series of books featuring Sayers’ detective Lord Peter Wimsey.
Lord Peter Wimsey’s sister Lady Mary is engaged to Denis Cathcart. When Denis is found murdered suspicion falls on Lady Mary’s elder brother Gerald, the Duke of Denver. Lord Peter tries to sort things out but a haze of falsehood and silence makes getting at the truth difficult.
All of the plot points and the characters felt vaguely familiar. Headstrong and impulsive women, unworthy suitors, feudal Lords behaving immorally, an alluring seductress, ruination of a foolish young man, it all felt familiar.
Lord Peter is an okay detective. I just wish the way he speaks didn’t remind me so much of P.G. Wodehouse’s creation Bertie Wooster. It is hard to be serious about murder when snippets of Bertie’s misadventures are floating around inside my head! However they are from the same time period so it’s not that surprising.
Mrs. Grimethorpe is a very beautiful woman. I get it. But lines like these got on my nerves.
…a broad white forehead under massed, dusky hair black eyes glowing under straight brows, a wide, passionate mouth–a shape so wonderful that even in that strenuous moment sixteen generations of feudal privilege stirred in Lord Peter’s blood…
‘feudal privilege stirred’? Ick!
One of the major plot points I realized almost at the beginning of the book. The whole thing was staring at everyone’s face right from the start and yet they fail to see the (extremely) obvious fact. Lord Peter even admits so himself nearing the end of the book
…”I am, without exception, the biggest ass in Christendom. When a thing is close under my nose I can’t see it….
But if everyone solved everything in the very first pages we wouldn’t have a mystery novel now, would we?
The last scene where Inspector Sugg finds Lord Peter, Inspector Parker and Freddy out on the streets was funny.
Overall, Clouds of Witness was an all right mystery. I can’t say I love my first Dorothy L. Sayers mystery but I am willing to read more of her books. I shall reserve my judgement till then.
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