Tag Archives: Five Red Herrings

Lord Peter on Dangerous Women

Lord Peter on Dangerous Women

Five Red Herrings is probably my least favorite Lord Peter mystery. It strays into the problems of time-tables and train schedule alibis, which I find rather tedious.

Yet even in this novel, Sayers has some brutal observations on the mind games men and women play. I feel that she really did excel at psychological examinations. Sherlock Holmes may be a better detective, but only Lord Peter can be poetic and perceptive at the same time:


Wimsey nodded. She was lying, he thought. Farren’s objections to Campbell had been notorious. But she was the kind of woman who, if once set out to radiate sweetness and light, would be obstinate in her mission. He studied the rather full, sulky mouth and narrow, determined forehead. It was the face of a woman who would see only what she wished to see—who would think that one could abolish evils from the world by pretending they were not there. Such things, for instance, as jealousy or criticism of herself. A dangerous woman, because a stupid woman. Stupid and dangerous, like Desdemona.

—Lord Peter’s opinion of Mrs. Farren in Dorothy L. Sayers’s Five Red Herrings (1931)