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on 30 October 2017
OK but doesn't quite work. certainly not vintage Sayers
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on 31 January 2011
On the basis of reviews here I decided not to buy the book; partly because it was more about Harriet than Peter, and partly because of the criticism of Jill Paton Walsh's style, but I've now read a friend's copy and I'm glad I did. Perhaps because I wasn't expecting too much, it was a pleasant surprise. That it wasn't written by DLS didn't jump out at me too often though there were a few places where it jarred. I thought the plot wasn't gone into deeply enough - just suddenly they seemed to know what happened, and the fact that this was so and I still enjoyed reading about the characters I already knew must say something good about Jill Paton Walsh's writing. I don't think the plot is good enough to be satisfying to someone not familiar with the characters, and I'm not sure if they are drawn strongly enough - particular Peter, to attract a new reader to then go to the earlier novels. I would give it no more than 3 stars as an independent novel but 4 for giving us something else to read about Peter and Co.
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on 9 April 2011
A Presumption of Death

Here we have a detective novel in its own right. The second in the Jill Paton Walsh series utilising Sayers, and one which this time doesn't really need to ride on the back of another author's work. A good, well-researched plot and very capable writing. But it shows how wise Sayers was not to write any more about Lord Peter and Harriet Vane after "Busman's Honeymoon", where most of the tension between the couple was resolved by their getting married at last and anything else would have been something of an anticlimax, as here. Sayers had become self-indulgent towards her characters to the extent of being rather too obviously in love with them herself. Walsh presents them in this book as decidedly domestic and wishy-washy. Indeed Lord Peter is largely absent, and it's Vane who is too much in evidence.I would have enjoyed this book more without the two of them, even if it meant the author having to introduce fresh characters and thus a mildly different book.
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It is 1940 and Harriet Vane - now Lady Peter Wimsey - has taken her children and those of her sister in law, Lady Mary Parker, to the country to Tallboys. Those people who have read Busman's Honeymoon will recall that Tallboys was the scene of Peter and Harriet's somewhat disrupted honeymoon. Here are some of the same characters - Aggie Twitterton, the Rev Simon Goodacre, Mr Puffett and Superintendent Kirk.

Then the village experiences its first air raid practice and the all clear reveals a dead body in the middle of the road. It isn't the result of enemy action just an old fashioned murder. A glamorous land girl is dead and there are plenty of people to say she deserved it and that she was probably a German spy. Harriet finds herself involved in the case semi officially as Kirk is very short staffed.

When Peter returns from a top secret mission he naturally gets involved too. I thought the author recreates the atmosphere of wartime extremely well and I could feel the tension and the way war infiltrates everything about day to day life. I did find the book a little gloomy but I did think the author has created a worthy successor to Dorothy L Sayers's own work and this book is definitely worth reading.
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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 12 June 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this pastiche which demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the other Wimsey stories and of Sayers herself. However, I have to point out a few minor irritants, plain to someone, like me, who lived through the war. it is, for example, very unlikely that women, even educated women would have heard about VD until much later in the war and even had they known, they would never have referred to such thing even indirectly. Nor would Sayers ever have described anyone as sexy. Germolene, not Germalene. The earliest Home Guard were the LDV, local defence volunteers. There are other anachronisms but none really detract from this very clever and entertaining book.
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on 12 August 2009
Jill made a really good effort with Thrones, Dominations, but this is definitely not as good. The plot is nicely thought through, the settings are good and the characters are well-rounded. Harriet and Peter act as you might expect, and we know a little more about their lives together. But the conversation is all wrong. It's not as clever and witty as DLS, some the language isn't quite right, and everyone makes everything much too obvious and belabours every point. The charm of DLS is somewhat lost along the way, and it's quite obvious where passages from other DLS outputs (letters etc) have been inserted. Overall, worthy of a read, just to keep an eye on how the Wimseys might have turned out, but keep your expectations under control or you'll be sadly disappointed.
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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 8 May 2012
This is a terrific book, set during World War 2. Jill Paton Walsh has caught Sayers tone exactly, but has a lightness of touch that is very engaging. I have long thought that detective novels from 'The Golden Age' were a very valuable source of social history,and this book continues the tradition. Daily life during the war years is immaculately researched and brought to vivid, rather touching life. And of course the ongoing love story of Peter and Harriet is also very attractive.
I loved it.
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on 11 June 2011
This novel makes interesting use of material in Dorothy Sayers's own novels, and in 'The Wimsey Papers'. It doesn't read quite like Dorothy Sayers's own writing (nor does 'Thrones and Dominations'), but the characters are faithfully drawn and recognisable, and there are some interesting additions to Dorothy Sayers's cast (e.g. 'Bungo', who appears offstage, as it were, in 'Have His Carcase'). As a lifelong Dorothy Sayers and Peter Wimsey fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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