The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh
Ebook on my iPad
I’m sure that every fan of Dorothy Sayers’ mystery stories has wondered about the case which started Lord Peter Wimsey on his hobby of detection. The case of the Attenbury emeralds (or was it the Attenbury diamonds?) is mentioned a number of times in the course of Sayers’ eleven novels about Lord Peter and his inamorata Harriet Vane.
Perhaps like me, if you have ever written any fiction yourself, you have even fantasised about writing a pastiche yourself based on the case. Well, if so, you have missed your chance.
A few years ago, Jill Paton Walsh satisfyingly completed the Wimsey novel Thrones, Dominations which Sayers had left unfinished at her death, and then went on to write a sequel, A Presumption of Death, based loosely on some of Sayers’s notes. In both books, Walsh seems to have perfectly matched Sayers’ style and channelled her feelings about her characters. Both are very satisfying reads in their own right, and a joy for Sayers fans.
Now, with the permission of Sayers’s estate, Walsh has written a further sequel to the series. She has not only revealed the facts behind Wimsey’s first case (and cleverly resolved Sayers’ slip in referring to both Attenbury emeralds and diamonds in different references), but manages to then brilliantly extend that original case so that it has ramifications in the immediate post-WW2 period when the novel is set. Setting it in 1951 of course allows her to bring in Harriet Vane (now Lady Peter) and a more mature Wimsey than if she had contented herself only with writing a prequel to the series set in 1921.
And then Walsh throws in a cracking surprise which overturns the lives of them all; an event which is a perfectly logical possibility arising out of the situation, characters and relationships which Sayers herself depicted.
I really enjoyed this. The Attenbury Emeralds fully deserves to be considered as a member in good standing of the Lord Peter Wimsey series.
Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane
Ebook on my iPad
Frequently gruesome thriller, the second in the series featuring private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, set in the rougher parts of modern-day Boston.
It was a pretty good page-turner, but I must say that by now I’m a bit sick (in more than one sense of the word) with American serial-killer stories. There’s only so many ways bodies can be cut up, only so many peculiarities of the criminal mind, so that the capacity of these books to shock starts to fade. This is why I stopped reading Patricia Cornwell, and Karin Slaughter’s books are also starting to make me feel that way. Nevertheless, I’ll stick with Lehane for at least another couple of books in the hope that he moves away from this kind of stuff.
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
Ebook on my iPad
Sayer’s work is now mostly in the public domain in countries like Canada and Australia which respect the rule of releasing a work 50 years after the author’s death (Sayers died in 1957). I was able to pick up a number of the Lord Peter Wimsey books as free epub ebooks, but for some reason Busman’s Honeymoon was only available as a HTML file. Never mind, using the brilliant (free) epub creation and editing program Sigil, I was able to do a nice conversion.
Reading through this book again, I realized how long it was since I had last read it, and how much better it was than I remembered it. Wimsey has married Harriet Vane at last, but their honeymoon turns up yet another murder which they have to solve. There are passages which are a big ‘stagey’, reflecting the fact that the work was originally released as a stage play, but by an large a really enjoyable read.