At any rate, as in “Whose Body,” the body in "Clouds," turns up in a rather awkward manner— when Peter’s own elder brother Gerald, the Duke of Denver, stubs his foot on it as he sneaks through the conversatory door of the Riddlesdale (don’t you love it?) shooting lodge at 3 o’clock in the morning. Gerald flicks on his torch to see what the hulking thing is, and, lo! finds Denis Cathcart, his sister’s (Lady Mary Wimsey) fiancée, shot through the chest and quite dead. Oh my. Gerald hears a cry, looks up, and there stands Lady Mary herself, exclaiming for all the world to hear—“O God, Gerald, you’ve killed him!” But of course Gerald says he didn't, he just tripped over him. Duh.
The police arrive and do their bumbling best while Gerald, stubborn honorable aristocract that he is, admits only to being thoroughly astonished by the whole affair. He offers no explanation for his presence, other than he’d been out for a walk on the moors, and so is trundled off to prison to await his trial and, unless he can come up with something better than a walk, his hanging. Enter Lord Peter Wimsey to the rescue. Thus begins a long (too long?) wild (and quite silly) ride for the reader. Witnesses accrue, all more confusing than helpful. Their stories about what each was up to at the fateful hour multiply and conflict. Is everyone lying? Or is everyone just caught in the nets of their separate but overlapping lives? It’s all a bit reminiscent of the muddle in the middle of “A Midsommer Night’s Dream.”
Lord Peter seems a bit sillier here than in “Whose Body,” though we do learn that the affected Bertie Wooster persona is in fact effected—a disguise to put folks off their guard. And suddenly Peter is chasin' half a dozen suspects, includin' his own stubborn brother, down blind allies and around dark corners, until at last Lord Peter, with a great deal of effort, unknit the tangled riddle and everything makes a sort of sense. Well, I won't spoil the fun, though as you might expect, it's not what you thought! Much appreciation too for Sayers' final fancy dollop, as bumbling Inspector Sugg stuffs a falling-down-drunk Lord Peter and the Hon. Freddy into a taxi already inhabited by Sugg's own "official superior" and Peter's good friend, Detective Inspector Parker, himself sleeping off an evening of too much champagne celebration of the closing of the case. "Thank Gawd there weren't no witnesses," mutters Sugg to himself.