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on 25 October 2002
This book is a must for all Wimsey-lovers as we are reunited with Peter and Harriet in the first two years of the Second World War. Peter makes his appearance late in the novel but Harriet is as engaging as ever taking centre stage. Her longng for her husband keeps Lord Peter firmy in the reader's consciousness. He may not appear quite enough for everyone's taste, but his reappearance at all more than makes up for it.
The mystery itself is not particularly thrilling; most of your suspicions or hunches will prove to be right. The book compensates for this with a delightful development of the relationship between Peter and Harriet and with a real sense of period. The fear of the early was years is vividly brought home and the uncertainty felt will strike a chord with society after September 11. This is not enough to make it a great read for those unfamiliar wth Wimsey - the Wimsey uninitiated would be well advised to start elsewhere - but Jill Paton Walsh has tied the book carefully with the Wimsey Papers published in The Spectator in 1939-1940 and sets the stage more clearly for the short story Talboys (in "Striding Folly"). As with Dorothy L Sayers books, the characterisation is endearing.
Jill Paton Walsh may not have produced another work like "Thrones, Dominations", (her completion of Dorothy L Sayers unfinished Wimsey novel) but it is nevertheless an entertaining read which offers some longed for insight into the lives of the Wimseys after their marriage.
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VINE VOICEon 4 April 2005
There is an excerpt of this book on Amazon. You might read it and think "Good heavens, this catches the tone of Sayers perfectly!". Well, of course it does. That's because the excerpt is lifted directly from Sayers' short story "The man who knew how" with just names and a few details changed and then inserted into this new book. The rest of the book doesn't live up to the writing of Sayers by a long chalk and this sort of underhand marketing ploy to make the reader think they're getting something they're not really ticks me off, especially when it is my money that they're taking.
Sayers had a delightful gift for characterisation and dialogue which few authors can manage. Jill Paton Walsh deserves credit for trying, but ultimately the fact that the publishers knew they had to run original Sayers dialogue to promote the book tells the potential buyer all they need to know.
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on 7 October 2007
This book takes place mainly in a small village in the countryside of England. The time, Wartime England, covering the end of 1939 through early 1940. While the village has its first air-raid practice, a crime is committed. They return to the streets to find a young lady murdered.

Lord Peter Wimbsy is off on a Secret Mission for his country. Leaving the short-handed police to turn to his wife for assistance, Writer and amateur detective Lady Peter Wimsey, known before her marriage as Harriet Vane.

We follow Harriet as she tries to solve this mystery. The story is well woven and just when we figure out who did it, we are thrown a curious twist. The cast of characters in the village makes for a fun read. We are also given a good look at life in England during the early part of World War II.
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on 24 October 2003
Harriet Vane (now Wimsey) has always been one of the delights of the Dorothy L Sayers books and considerably more consistent and believable as a character than Lord Peter - this book focusses on Harriet and is stronger for it. Jill Paton Walsh attempts to resolve the problem of Lord Peter's varying character by having him comment on it and the changes which marriage has brought and he is certainly a nicer, more believable person here (although I still have doubts about all this "secret" work he does !!)
The delight of this book is not the mystery, which is reasonably straightforward, but the background detail of the war time village life and the reintroduction of the characters we already know and changes in their lives. The age is well evoked and the author handles the class issues well. We also get the expected and outrageously funny contributions we have come to expect from the Dowager Duchess.
The resolution of the mystery is clever although it does raise a number of moral points which the novel admits are difficult. The decisions made do feel like those which might well have been made in the circumstances ... whether they are the right ones, is a difficult question and thought provoking.
This novel does not have the air of despair that past Wimsey novels have had or the feeling of fragility in the relationships and concentrates more on issues and character development. It is a good, fun novel which will delight all those who who love and know the characters. I sincerely hope that Jill Paton walsh is considering more ......
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on 1 November 2009
I have re read this book several times now and also listened to the narration of it - beautifully done by Edward Petherbridge - and it is without doubt one of my favorite books to relax with. The book is based in 1939 shortly after the outbreak of WW2 and Harriet has taken her children and her in-laws children to live at Tallboys, their country farmhouse. Jill Paton Walsh writes with a very easy style and has the ability to transport you to the era in which it was written through her characters, descriptions of the wartime lifestyles and the relationships that develop. The book is mainly about Harriet Vane, now Lady Peter Wimsey, and how she has settled into the role as Peters wife to the point where she is very comfortable and a lot more confident than she was as a single lady. Harriet is asked to help investigate the murder of a young woman while Peter is abroad working for the government in a covert operation. He appears about 2/3 of the way through book to help solve the murder. I would highly recommend this book to any DLS reader as a very good interpretation of the characters that she invented before she moved onto other things.
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on 20 April 2016
Not as good as if DLS had written it herself, but since she was not available, this was a reasonable good substitute. It injects life into Lord Peter and Harriet and allows us to speculate pleasurably about how the children would grow up and to wallow in their attempts to deal with the difficulties of child rearing in the face of changing times against old traditions. The storyline may be a little superficial but, I suspect, the attempts by Britain in 1939 and 40 to organise herself and her home defense were more than a little amateurish.
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on 30 January 2003
It's difficult to imagine a more thankless task than taking on the burden of recreating much loved fictional characters long after their creator's death, as the principal audience is likely to be people with their own, longstanding views about the characters. I'd admit to falling into this category. Having acknowledged that, however, I found this book more disappointing than its predecessor.
The earlier "collaboration" between Jill Paton Walsh and Dorothy Sayers to my eye owed much of its vitality and richness to those parts of the text substantially similar to other, earlier material by Dorothy Sayers. This "collaboration" has neither. Lord Peter Wimsey is a pale, wan character, while the former Harriet Vane appears to have been arrested in her development, making gauche and embittered responses in a series of exchanges that are surprisingly unsophisticated. Helen, the Duchess, is now a devitalised villian, bought on to be booed from the stalls. The Wimseys display a remarkable, if unpersuasive conversion to middle class values, while the Duke appears to be on the way to proto-socialism.
Worth the effort? If there's to be a further "collaboration", I won't be buying it...
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on 14 May 2016
I was a bit dubious about this book as I thought no-one could match up to Dorothy Sayers's story-telling but I was proved wrong - I thought it was what my Dad would have called "a jolly good yarn" and quite in keeping following on from Busman's Honeymoon et al.
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on 4 June 2016
Very good. A difficult task for the author who is having to bring the Wimseys through the 'next stage' in their story which is, of course, the war, with all its implications for this unusual couple. Handled very well, I thought.
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on 25 May 2016
I switched off the telly to read this! I couldn't put this book down, I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Presumption of Death having previously read Busman's Honeymoon. I liked both these books because there were passages that made me laugh out loud, sometimes there were words like 'valetudinarian mode' which had me reaching for my dictionary (I like discovering new words, I think I'll try out 'valetudinarian mode' on my GP). I'm giving this book 5 stars for the pleasure it gave me to read it.
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