Thursday, July 3, 2014
The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh
This is Paton Walsh's fourth Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane mystery, continuing the story of the noble sleuth and his novelist wife, but the first in which Paton Walsh ventures beyond the plots, articles and notes that Dorothy Sayers left unfinished to chart new territory for the Wimseys.
Lord Peter, who reluctantly assumed the title of Duke of Denver upon his brother's demise in The Attenbury Emeralds, is called upon to exercise the ducal hereditary authority as the "Visitor" or patron to settle a dispute among the Fellows (faculty) of St. Severin's College, Oxford University. The College finds itself in a precarious financial position, and some of the Fellows want to sell a valuable codex or manuscript from the college library. The money from the sale of the manuscript would then be used to buy land on the outskirts of Oxford that the college can lease for development as part of the postWorld War II building boom. The lease payments will provide a steady stream of much needed income for the college.
The issue has been hotly debated for months and repeated votes have ended in stalemate. And so the Visitor is summoned to settle the dispute. But the actual situation that Peter and Harriet discover upon arrival in Oxford is far more complex. Several Fellows have suffered from a peculiar series of accidents, and one is dead from a fall down a college staircase. The Warden (Chief Adminstrator) of St. Severin's has left his post and no one seems to know where to find him. As more fatal accidents befall the Fellows, Peter and Harriet realize that some person or persons unknown seem to be choosing methods from Harriet's mystery novels to settle old grievances related to the manuscript in question.
A clever mystery and a chance for Peter and Harriet to return to Oxford with all its memories and connections, and to bring their readers with them.
Click HERE to read a recent interview with Jill Paton Walsh discussing the challenges of continuing the saga of Sayers' iconic characters.