Clouds of witness has long been one of my least favourite Dorothy L. Sayers. The second in the Wimsey canon, sees Lord Peter being roped in to defend his brother against the charge of killing his sister's caddish fiance. The Duke of Denver has clearly been up to something, but is it murder?

It's a long time since I last read Clouds of witness and coming back to it I enjoyed it much more than on previous readings. There's a lot to admire in it, Sayers' cloud of contradictory witnesses is well constructed. There is coincidence, but not a ridiculous amount, and there's some great characterisation. It is difficult at the end not to feel a great deal of sympathy with the victim, even though he is not portrayed initially as a particularly sympathetic character. Sayers as ever brings the threads of the mystery together skillfully, and any reader who guesses well in advance of the denouement who was responsible for the crime can feel justly proud of themselves.

However, I'm still not a huge fan of this novel. There's a large dose of snobbery in it, with most of the lower class characters seeming to have come out of a re-run of Cold Comfort Farm, Wimsey seems to be at his most dense, and there's too much French (huge swathes of it). Even if you understand the language, it starts to get a bit irritating. All in all, it's a bit of a clumsy tale, that feels as though it wants to be rather daring, but doesn't quite have the courage to be so.


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