Vintage Mystery Challenge - Lethal Locations!
"If one lives in Galloway, one either fishes or paints. 'Either' is perhaps misleading, for most painters are fishers also in their spare time. To be neither of these things is considered odd and almost eccentric."
Despite being a 'southron' Lord Peter Wimsey is received affectionately into the community at Kirkcudbright because he doesn't pretend to paint and throws a respectable cast. It's while he is here on holiday that the body of Sandy Campbell, artist and quarrelsome drunkard is found face down in a stream. Presumed at first to be an accident Wimsey discovers an inconsistency at the scene which suggests murder. Six people did not regret Campbell's death......five are red herrings.
Although the reader is told there is a clue at the scene it is left to them to work it out. I never did and if I had I doubt it would have made any difference amidst the confusion of lies and alibis, bicycles everywhere , train timetables and railway stations. I left it to the experts and sat back and enjoyed what was a cleverly plotted, very humorous and entertaining mystery.
The Location: Galloway is in the south-west of Scotland and the story is centred in and around the town of Kirkcudbright. For over 200 years the beauty of the surrounding countryside has attracted landscape painters and a thriving artist's colony still exists there today.
Dorothy Sayers was obviously very familiar with this part of Scotland and includes passages of vivid imagery describing the landscape.
".....climbed up beneath the grim blackness of Cardoness Castle, drank in for the thousandth time the strange Japanese beauty of Mossyard Farm, set like a red jewel under its tufted trees on the blue sea's rim, and the Italian loveliness of Kirkdale, with it's fringe of thin and twisted trees and the blue Wigtonshire coast gleaming across the bay".
Also adding to the Scottish atmosphere (and the humour) was the use of dialect by the locals , particularly the police who Wimsey was helping.
" I canna credit that any gentleman wad murder anither for twa-three words aboot a bit picture, or for a wee difference of opeenion consairnin' a game o' gowf......"I didn't have any problem interpreting it and the dialogue was extremely funny at times.
Great reading and I'm looking forward to more vintage mysteries.
Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers was first published in 1931.