I have now read all four of the Imogen Quy novels. Their heroine is a nurse in a not very well-known Cambridge College which has been given the name St Agatha's. In the excellent English tradition, Miss Quy stumbles across murders all the time. And she solves them. The stories are set in the 21st century, but Miss Quy, only in her thirties, behaves as though she were a nineteen forties spinster (frightfully keen on sewing and convinced that biscuits are all that the young - and old - really want in life). It has to be said that she is not a credible character, but that doesn't mean we don't adore her. There is a touch of the Miss Marple about her and echoes, not surprisingly, of the works of Dorothy L Sayers. But, of course, Miss Marple and Lord Peter Wimsey did their detecting a very long time ago. Imogen Quy would have been much more comfortable as an amateur detective if she had been operating sixty or more years ago. But, once one learns to ignore the fact that we are meant to believe the stories took place in the 21st century, they really are delightful. I would like to think there will be more to come, but I fear, since there has been nothing since this one, that I will be denied the pleasure of reading of further murders at St Agatha's.
The Bad Quarto is a detective story set in Cambridge involving wonderfully arcane Cambridge customs, mad university politics and a Shakespeare play. I finished it in one go and will certainly read it again some day. Where the previous book, Debts of Dishonour, was a huge disappointment this is quality stuff. A great one for anglophiles, lovers of Shakespeare and the old-fashioned detective story where you can still gather information by buying the local bum a cup of tea even if he is on drugs now. The only thing I didn't like was the hasty ending. I rather enjoyed the characters and could have done with a bit more wrap up time.
A good story but too many coincidences. With all these books I find it hard to believe that a college nurse would be treated as an equal by the Master and the dons! That said it is nice to read a book of this genre with some intelligent dialogue. I too thought the ending was a bit rushed and not very well done. Did not read book 3 as not on Kindle for some reason. Reasonable plot but found a HUGE clue to ending 3/4 way through., maybe I read too many detective books!
In reading this novel I appreciated that Jill Paton Walsh has not slacked at all as many writers might, in seeking unusual components, knowledge and complexities to put together a very readable, enjoyable mystery. Indeed, she has done it again, and I think, even better than the previous one. Her style of writing, selection of language used by her characters...mostly academics or scholars....is mostly sedate in an intellectually superior style that is reminiscent of an earlier period. One would love the use of such language and adherence to scholarly ethics to be the case today! How splendid if the Seniors did indeed adopt the beautiful English and considered behaviours of more stately times.....bar the attitudes towards women scholars, of course. This novel includes Imogen's, as well as the reader's, exposure to producing Hamlet, the dangerous climbing challenges offered by university and other buildings in Cambridge, aspects of British law, as well as the influence of proper scientific testing vs power wielded by expert witnesses, more Cambridge background, and so on. It will be difficult for Ms Walsh to find another such first class mystery plot! But I hope she does.
I thought that this was excellent - tightly plotted and well resolved (despite some previous opinions to the contrary). A lot of the plot was based around Hamlet, and John Dover Wilson's "What happens in Hamlet" was referenced. This was of particular interest to me, as after reading it as a teenager I briefly considered studying English.( Fortunately it was pointed out to me that very few books on English Literature are as interesting as this one; I studied science instead.) The book also included a well-argued academc discussion of the contrast between legal and medical interpretations of "beyond reasonable doubt", with respect to infant deaths - almost worth buying the book for this alone. My familiarity with the locations did the book no harm, of course. I do hope that this wasn't the last we will hear about Imogen Quy.
I really enjoyed this book, not only for the story, but also for the games Ms Paton Walsh plays with the reader e.g. the relationship between the names of several characters and the favoured reading of one of the lay staff at St Agatha's. I wish there were more than four books about Imogen Quy.
I have read all the Quy books and can't remember a single word as soon as I get to the end, but sometimes you need books like that. Train journey books or something to read when you don't have the time to get too enravelled in anything.