Dorothy L. Sayers
August 25, 2003
Reading Response for Five Red Herrings
Is the title appropriate?
As in all detective stories, the plot encompasses the circuitous route taken in order to solve the crime, in this case a murder. The title is clever and descriptive, for a "red herring" is something that draws attention away from the central issue. In this novel, there are six suspects and five will prove to be red herrings.
Does the location of the novel figure in the plot?
"Five Red Herrings" is set in Scotland, specifically the Galloway region, and the town of Kirkcudbright, a community mainly comprised of local fishermen and resident artists augmented by seasonal vacationers many of who are annual visitors. Sayers has done an excellent job portraying Scottish personalities and of all class distinctions. Her use of the Scottish brogue is masterful and with the turn of each page becomes more understandable and enjoyable to discern.
The geography of the area figures in the plot, as does the occupation of the culprit.
Describe the appearance and character of the deceased, Campbell.
Campbell was disliked in varying degrees by all of the six suspects. He was an acutely adversarial character who, though a talented landscape painter, was rude, rough, and essentially friendless.
Give a brief description of the six suspects.
Ferguson: John Ferguson lived next to the deceased each summer. He was a landscape and figure painter "about 36--about 5 foot 10 inches--grass widower" (32). Ferguson was always annoyed by Campbell's uncouth manners and his lack of respect for property belonging to others. Their last row occurred as the result of Campbell backing his auto into Ferguson's wall and knocking it down.
Strachan: Henry Strachan lived just out of Gatehouse of Fleet on a road that leads...