When we lived in Pittsburgh, back in the dark ages, we didn't have a TV (much of the time, someone, in an act of pity, eventually gave us one). So, my spouse and I used to read to each other at night. We went through pretty much all of the Dorothy Sayers' books. I have fond memories of them. I also have fond memories of the videos of them, some of which we have now seen many times (we did, eventually, join the second half of the 20th century by getting a TV).
Anyway, I thought it was time I reread them. I began during the summer with Strong Poison
and liked it ok. Then I decided to go back to the beginning. For some reason, I wasn't finding the first of the Lord Peter series, so I took up this second one, Clouds of Witness
It seems that Gerald, the Duke of Denver (Lord Peter Wimsey's brother), invited a shooting party to a lodge he rented in Yorkshire. Among the party were Lord Peter's sister, Lady Mary, and her fiancé, Denis Cathcart. One night, the Duke and Cathcart have a fight and Cathcart storms off into the night (it was a dark and stormy night, actually). Along about 3 am, the Duke stumbles over the body whilst coming back from something
, perhaps merely a walk on the moor. About the same time Lady Mary wanders by, thinking her brother shot whoever is lying there. So, we have endless possibilities, lots of clues, but they all point in different directions. Eventually, after trips hither and yon and getting stuck in a bog in the middle of a fog, Wimsey and Co. figure it all out.
I wasn't overwhelmed with this one. It did improve as it went along. The beginning was super tedious, just endless transcripts of the inquest into the death of Cathcart, interspersed with lots of vapid piffle from Lord Peter. I like a certain amount of piffle, hell I'm pretty piffleous
myself, but this was over the top. Fortunately, the piffle toned down as the book progressed and became more fun.
The story was overly convoluted, I thought, and for the most part, improbable. Like, for some reason, the police, in the form of Inspector Parker, seem to be cooperating with the defense in the crown's case against the Duke of Denver, rather than working to shore up whatever case the crown has. All the travels hither and yon to find will o' the wisps, mysterious blonds and gems and so forth, also just felt overly contrived.
Fortunately, I know from experience, that the Lord Peter Wimsey series gets better, so I'll continue with some more in this series, albeit after a breather with Raymond Chandler and Willa Cather, who have never failed to be awesome. Perhaps, also, some more awesomeness from Nevil Shute.