Clouds of Witness

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers

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This is the second Lord Peter Wimsey mystery and I enjoyed it more than the first because the ending seemed less convoluted. Instead of a cackling villain, this story had a series of coincidences and secrets among a surprisingly passionate noble family. In this story, Lord Peter has to clear his brother of murder charges when his sister’s fiancé turns up dead outside their hunting lodge. The mystery’s solution requires uncovering 3 doomed love affairs, involving a Viennese courtesan, an abused country wife, and a fiery socialist. The fun British wit and sentence-level flourishes are my favorite parts. My favorite line was when Lord Peter’s mother, the dowager duchess, exposes a lie, and her son congratulates her. She says, “My dear child, you can give it a long name if you like, but I’m an old-fashioned woman and I call it mother-wit, and it’s so rare for a man to have it that if he does you write a book about him and call him Sherlock Holmes.” Of course, I imagined Maggie Smith as the dowager duchess. The setting for these books is 1923, so it’s like playing murder mystery dinner theater at Downton Abbey.

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