Like any good writer of detective fiction, Dorothy L. Sayers placed in her narratives “red herrings” that seem to identify the perpetrator of the crime. When attentive readers recognize that a red herring has led them astray, they change the direction of their thoughts, following a new scent as they seek, along with the detective, the identity of the culprit. In The Five Red Herrings, her seventh detective novel, Sayers personifies such identifying characteristics as six characters, all of whom seem capable to have committed the murder of an artist named Campbell. She provides motives that make each appear, for a time, as a likely suspect. By the end, however, the reader recognizes that what often seems to be proof positive of the criminal’ s identity is actually grounded in the factitiousness of fact.


Good Writer Attentive Reader Plural Perspective Murder Victim Writing Performance 
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© Crystal Downing 2004

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  • Crystal Downing

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