nineveh_uk (nineveh_uk) wrote,

With fear and trembling

I await the publication of a fourth Jill Paton-Walsh Wimsey novel later this year. It has the less-than-inspiring title The Late Scholar; I don’t know whether the ‘Lord Peter Wimsey investigates’ bit on the cover reflects the fact that there are going to be more of these, or the fact that the cover was put together hastily to get it out in time for the Christmas market. Or possibly – and I’m almost certainly being generous here – it’s a more sophisticated reference to the contents of the book and Golden Age titles. Like The Attenbury Emeralds it’s being published in hardback, so they are evidently expecting reasonable sales, or gluttons for punishment like me to buy it regardless.

The publisher’s blurb is as follows:

A new murder mystery featuring Lord Peter Wimsey - now a Duke - and his wife Harriet Vane, set in an Oxford college in the 1950s.

Peter Wimsey is pleased to discover that along with a Dukedom he has inherited the duties of 'visitor' at an Oxford college. When the fellows appeal to him to resolve a dispute, he and Harriet set off happily to spend some time in Oxford.

But the dispute turns out to be embittered. The voting is evenly balanced between two passionate parties - evenly balanced, that is, until several of the fellows unexpectedly die. The Warden has a casting vote, but the Warden has disappeared.

And the causes of death of the deceased fellows bear an uncanny resemblance to the murder methods in Peter's past cases - methods that Harriet has used in her published novels.

Cue the Chords of Doom.

I tell myself that at least unlike TAE it won’t be hampered by attempting to shoehorn in every possible bit of related DLS apocrypha. On the other hand, it means the author’s on her own… We will see. Oxford is hardly an original setting and invites comparison. I fear it may also invite re-using characters from Gaudy Night. I can’t imagine why on earth any Oxford college would want a random duke as a Visitor* - perhaps to ensure they were as ineffective as possible. I can’t help feeling that instead of Peter coming to sort things out, it would have been a lot more entertaining had the college had to appeal to Gerald (or the erstwhile Viscount Saint-George). And why** would any murderer with half a brain decide to murder according to methods that have already been solved and lead the perpetrator to the gallows? Unless these were Peter's duds and Harriet has consoled him by pioneering a murder mystery sub-genre in which the reader never finds out whodunit, so no nervous breakdowns are required.

It comes out in December. Consider my reading and reviewing it an early Christmas present.

*Not a concept easy to Google.

**oh why
Tags: books, dls, fandom
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