Thursday, May 19, 2016

Five Red Herrings

Thirty years lends perspective to characters.  I've read Five Read Herrings at twice and seen the cardboard-set BBC adaptation at least five times, but never thought of why Sandy Campbell was so unpleasant.  I never thought he deserved to be killed, but this time I found him to be more tragic than terrible.  The sort of person who's disliked because he's unlikable, but then overreacts and makes himself unbearable.  We've all known people like him, co-workers or classmates, and maybe, once we no longer have to deal with them, squirm a bit at memories of how we treated them.

Since Campbell was so despised, no one is particularly surprised when his accidental death turns out to be murder.  Six of his fellow artists - the killer and the five red herrings - are suspects, and Lord Peter and Bunter set out to solve the crime.  Here's where I had another revelation; Five Red Herrings is a bit like a Monty Python sketch with a twist.  The solution turns on railroad timetables an coincidence, along with a missing piece of evidence.  Diverting and clever, and much lighter than Lord Peter's last three outings.

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