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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 29 May 2012
It was sheer dogged determinedness and my love of the original Wimsey books which got me to the end of this book. The story itself is incredibly weak and lacks any form of suspense or intrigue; instead it meanders its way (slowly and without real direction) to a conclusion. The characters of Peter, Harriet, Bunter and the Dowager are very forced and insipid copies of the originals as portrayed by Sayers; Peter especially comes across as being quite weak and ineffectual and also somewhat pompous at times.There is no real spark or believability in the characters interaction with one another or with the story of events.

Another big disappointment for me in the book is JPWs use of swearing, something Sayers never used in her books, it has been used in a purely gratuitous sense and adds nothing in the way of impact or definition of the narrative; it merely creates a discordant note and adds to the forced feeling of the dialogue and characters.

The only reason I have given this book two stars is because of my abiding love of the original books and I can't sully Sayers memory by only giving it one star! Overall such a disappointing read, if you are a true fan of Sayers, Wimsey and Harriet then give this one a miss.
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on 1 January 2013
As a DLS fan I was delighted to come across this book. I had read Presumption of Death and Thrones and Denominations and found them reasonably faithful to the DLS style. however I found the Attenbury Emeralds very disappointing. The complex dynamics and intense relationships between the characters were missing and the plot was torturous and uninspiring in my opinion.

Having read and reread with great pleasure the trials and tribulations of Peter and Harriet, the relationship between Bunter and the couple, the wit, humour and intellect shown by all the major characters as presented by DLS, I was very disappointed by the cardboard characters and dull dialogue found in this book.

I would have expected Peter Wimsey to make much more of inheriting the Dukedom with the roles and responsibilities surrounding it, than the few lines given up to it in the book. It can be argued that this was incidental to the plot, however as Peter Wimsey, written by DLS, was an extremely complex character who took his responsibilities very seriously I suspect that she would have made more of this development, building it into all the characters.

I hope this will be the last attempt to continue this saga. DLS exhibits a light touch and the ability to give these well
loved characters a dimension which allows them to leap off the page into the readers imagination, unfortunately I think that is missing in this book.
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on 5 October 2010
I have longed for years to know the story of the Attenbury Emeralds (or, as Sayers aficionados will know, possibly diamonds). Jill Paton Walsh's latest offering is therefore one which I warmly welcomed - and with that confidence which very few "continuations" of famous works can inspire; her previous efforts ("Thrones Dominations" and "A Presumption of Death") were all but note perfect (except that pesky suggestion that Charles Parker doesn't like detective fiction!!).
As for this book, even without the structural help which she had for both the previous books (the former was partly mapped out by Sayers, and the latter had some hints by way of wartime articles to build on) I can joyfully report that this is well up to standard. We learn the back story of the Emeralds (at last) and it is a great story, even if it doesnt quite match up to the hints in the original books. Meanwhile a new mystery about one of the emeralds presents itself to be solved alongside a heartwarming depiction of Peter and Harriet's domestic felicity. Also of interest is the vivid snapshot of postwar conditions - the continued reminders of the bombing, with no-one having money to rebuild, and the lingering presence of rationing.
The Lit Rev referred to the book as a "pastiche" which seems to me to be thoroughly unfair. "Pastiche" suggests a technical but soulless job, and possibly one imbued with a degree of sarcasm. Paton Walsh's Sayer books are certainly not that. What she has succeeded in doing is writing an excellent homage to Sayers, which I cannot imagine will bring anything other than joy to all Sayers fans. In some ways however I feel she transcends the homage and improves on Sayers. Sayers wanted Peter and Harriet to be happy, but her metier was actually writing about the troubled side of life - even in getting to Busman's Honeymoon and the vignette in "Tallboys" there is a sense of her struggling with depictions of happiness. This (as well as the excuse of staging Busman's Honeymoon) may well account for her "stalling" in the writing of "Thrones, Dominations". Paton Walsh makes Sayers' dreams, and those of all fans of Peter and Harriet come true - and in thoroughly convincing and satisfying style - we owe her a debt!
However - a note of caution - I strongly suspect that this may be the last Paton Walsh/Sayers. Without ruining the plot, let me just warn you that the end has a sense of completeness about it - so enjoy what may well be the last Sayers you will ever read!
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on 27 May 2011
I enjoyed Thrones, Dominations and although I found 'A Presumption of Death' not quite up to the same standard I was looking forward to this book. However it is nowhere up to the original Dorothy L Sayers standard. The first third is hard going, and has an artificial, forced air. The style of writing a 3-way conversation is clumsy (although I can see why it appealed to the author) and the Wimseys / Bunter have been crystallised in their 1930s characters - I'm sure Peter and Harriet would have moved on and their relationship evolved after the war and nearly 20 years of marriage. Unlike in the original Sayers' writings, these characters fail to come across as 'real' people; to DLS, Peter was a real person and she had obviously known a Bunter, but their relationship is stilted in this book. The plot is just about works, but there are several errors and internal inconsistencies. For example, it is clear in 'Whose Body' that Peter has known Charles Parker for some time: "the feeling of Parker's old trench coat beneath your fingers was comforting. You had felt it in worse places" certainly suggests that Peter had been with Parker during the war and did not first meet him in 1921. There are also inconsistencies about who had the emerald out of the bank and for how long. Finally there is a throwaway line towards the end about the original (Tudor) Wimsey jewels - I kept waiting for them to appear again but the author appears to have lost her own thread at that point (or they were cut out in a re-write) - a pity as they are an intruiging possible thread). The final third of the book is much better and there are flashes of the real Peter and the story is stronger. I rather hope that this is the final Peter Wimsey novel and that the character created by Dorothy L Sayers doesn't become further diluted.
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Having read all of the Dorothy L. Sayers Lord Peter Wimsey books, I have continued with those written by Jill Paton Walsh. In the two previous novels, she has used writing, or notes, from Sayers herself, but, in this work she steps out on her own. As all fans of Wimsey will know, the Attenbury Emeralds were Lord Peter’s first case, recounted here, to Harriet in 1951, by her husband and Bunter. The case took place during Lord Peter’s first foray into society after WWI, for the engagement party of Lord Attenbury’s daughter and was felt, by Bunter, to be a safe outing for the still fragile Wimsey. His old friend, Freddy Arbuthnot, is also a house guest, along with other friends and family.

During the house party, Lady Charlotte is to wear the famous Attenbury emeralds, when a man turns up, attempting to buy back the largest jewel for the Maharaja of Sinorabad. Later, the jewel goes missing – enter Sugg and also Charles Parker, for the first time. Of course, Lord Peter famously discovered the missing emerald and embarked on the hobby of detecting. However, the novel then continues with a later story concerning the emeralds, as well as a story set in the novel’s present time – as the current Lord Attembury asks for Peter’s help to clarify whether the emerald currently held in the bank is really his.

At this point, the novel embarks on a rather confusing tale of missing, or possibly switched, emeralds, theft, revenge and murder. Along the way, there is a side story concerning the family seat of Duke’s Denver (along with the massive taxes the aristocracy faced after the war) and Paton Walsh cleverly draws parallels between characters in the story of the Attenbury Emeralds and how Harriet has been treated by some members of Lord Peter’s class; notably Gerald’s wife, Helen.

In some ways this is a confusing novel, attempting to cram in every reference to the Attenbury Emeralds, possibly to the detriment of the whole story. However, the author keeps sympathy with her characters and touches on many of the themes that Sayers wrote about in her books – Lord Peter’s regret at the might of the Law being brought against those he proves to be guilty, for instance. Overall, a good read which is almost seamless from the original and brings the characters believably into a more modern age. I will certainly read on.
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on 24 March 2014
If you enjoy detective stories you may like this. If you are reading it as a fan of D.L.Sayers and the Wimsey, Harriet, Bunter triangle then it may disapoint. I didn't find plot interesting enough, the characters seemed too similar to each other and there was very little about Harriet and Peter's (let alone Bunter and Mrs. Bunter's) inner lives. In the DLS books the characters had there own lives and as much in love as Harriet and Peter were ,there were always differences in the way they spoke, thought and acted. In comparison these characters seem like cardboard cut-outs. If you lifted some dialogue out of the page I suspect you'd find it difficult to work out who was talking. Lord Peter has gone very soft and pc in his old age, made me feel quite nauseated. Without spoiling anything there were a few obvious loose ends left hanging. I was disapointed. This is not even close to 'Thrones and Dominations' which was a good read. After this one I may stick to the original stories, there's no point hanging on for more news about H&P if you don't recognise them.
However it's not a bad story and I was interested to find out what happened. But I do miss Harriet and
Peter :-(
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on 15 April 2017
This book really disappointed me.

I was looking forward to the prequel of how the Attenbury emerald mystery was solved, but the writing style of the first half with it's first person recollection of events in the past told by Wimsey and Bunter felt clumsy and not like a Sayers novel. When events moved to the present and later events befalling the emeralds, the style felt more familiar, though I did notice that the characters tended to quote from books that would probably still be familiar to modern readers (eg. Pooh bear and Alice in Wonderland) rather than Sayers wider range. (you may regard this as a good or bad thing depending on your preference)

The solution to the plot relied on a horrendous number of coincidences, which I guess I can't really complain about given that Sayers was almost as guilty in Clouds of Witness....

However, I'm not currently inspired to try any more of Paton Walsh's Wimsey novels.
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on 1 October 2010
As an American fan of Lord Peter Wimsey, I was all aflutter when I read (on Edward Petherbridge's website) about the release of Jill Paton Walsh's newest update on the Wimsey line. I decided I should not have to wait until the USA release and, so, ordered it from Amazon UK. Initially, I thought I'd be disappointed when I realized the story was to be told in recollections. However, by the time I'd finished the first disc, I had renewed my love affair with Wimsey and Bunter and their circle. Of course, recollections are only a part of the way the story is told; the present comes in to play very nicely. I'm smack in the middle of the 8 cd set and can hardly go to bed at night for staying up listening. I don't even bother to pretend to be doing household chores now; I just sit on the sofa and listen. The history of Peter is as enthralling as ever. I still feel so fond of the Dowager Duchess. Harriet has warmed and mellowed in the light of Peter's love. They are still sharp, funny, respectful of each other and their regard for Bunter has only grown over the years. These are dear old friends, family, really. The mystery of the emeralds is circuitous enough to keep me interested in the outcome. The characters are all sympathetic and their recounting of the war years is deeply moving. The Greatest Generation meets the thoughtful skill of Peter Wimsey, whose place in the changing world has moved slightly more into the commonplace. But, he is still "My Lord" to Harriett, and, to me.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 December 2010
I seem to be in a minority here but I'm afraid I found this a disappointingly unconvincing sequel to Sayers' own Peter Wimsey series. I quite enjoyed Thrones, Dominations, didn't like A Presumption of Death and found this the least successful of the three.

The first third is taken up by a very artifical and strained 3-way conversation in which Peter and Bunter in 1951 retell the story of their first case in 1921. Then there's a 1941 interlude, and finally we move into 1951 - the Attenbury emeralds link all three parts, not completely successfully in my view.

Part of the problem is that the characters of Wimsey, Harriet and Bunter are so much of their time i.e. 1920s,1930s, and I don't feel that Paton Walsh is successful at moving them into the 1950s. What used to be their charm becomes far more socially unsettling in the post-war years and smacks a little, despite their constant apologising (irritating in itself) of post-war priviledge.

I also felt that Paton hasn't developed the characters in any way and falls back on old characteristics to ground them: so the Wimseys are still quoting Donne to each other, for example, or having the same arguments over duty and justice as they have done in the past - which felt a bit lazy to me.

Even the plot is an old-fashioned Agatha Christie-style missing jewels one which just felt terribly awkward to me in the 1950s setting.

I'm a huge fan of Sayers and other old-school detective fiction - but their charm lies, I think, in their authenticity, and this attempt at recreation felt more than a bit flat to me.
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I have read this and the two previous "sequels" and found this the least of the three. Various sensational family revelations occur, and in these JPW is true to the expressed DLS intentions by and large, though perhaps not the fire? I found that the book got better the further from the main characters it was - I preferred JPW writing without the inhibitions imposed by using someone else's characters. What really spoilt it for me though was the focus on the aristocracy without the necessary knowledge. Lord Peter is the son of a Duke and of an ancient lineage - he would automatically use the correct title. To hear him address Diana, Dowager Marchioness of Writtle as "Lady Diana" wrecked any attempt at belief that this was the real Lord Peter, who would call her either "Diana" or more formally "Lady Writtle". The Attenbury titles are also inconsistent. (DLS's characters wouldn't always get titles right but only when they might reasonably be expected not to get them right.) Good editing should have picked this up but then good editing is rapidly disappearing.
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