This is another Lord Peter Wimsey novel by Jill Paton Walsh based on the characters created by Dorothy L Sayers and continuing the story from Walsh's The Attenbury Emeralds.
With affection and gusto, Paton Walsh returns Wimsey back to an Oxford College where, as visitor, he has to adjudicate in a fellows' dispute as to whether they should sell and mediaeval manuscript to purchase some farmland which they might then develop for much money. Although I enjoyed dipping myself back into some much-loved characters I was again disappointed by the plot. One by one the dons are being bumped off and the methods used seem to correspond to the previous cases investigated by Lord Peter (and written up as fiction by his wife, Harriet Vane). For this reason, this novel should come with a huge spoiler alert (although it might be argued that no-one would read these books if they hadn't already exhausted the authentic Peter Wimsey corpus). Such clues as there are seem transparent: one of the dons has being sneaking over to Cambridge to buy detective fiction and, yes, it is the one I thought it would be and, yes, he is the villain even though he has next to o motive apart from insanity. Improbably, among these few fellows there is another murderer as well! He also has little in the way of credible motive.
So as a whodunnit it fails but as fan-fiction it gives you that cosy sense of having been amongst old friends. Paton Walsh drops real people into the text: Wimsey's brother-in-law Charles Parker asks to drink in the pub where he can see C.S.Lewis (whose theological works he admires) and Tolkien gets a mention.
A fun read but not a great whodunnit. April 2014; 356 pages
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57