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Having greatly enjoyed, “Thrones, Dominations,” I was keen to read the second in the Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane series, continued by author Jill Paton Walsh. This begins in 1939, with England in the early days of the Second World War. Lord Peter is away on a dangerous mission overseas and Harriet has closed up the London house and retreated to Talboys with her two sons, Bredon, aged three, and Paul, who is nearly one. She also has the care of the children of Charles and Mary Parker; Charlie, Polly and Harriet.

The local village has changed, with land girls and troops bringing new faces and the community preparing itself for war with air raid practice. Most of the village intend to use the cellars of the local public house as a shelter, but the Methodists are unhappy about taking refuge in a public house, so nearby caves are utilised for them. However, although the practice seems to go well, when the all clear sounds and everyone emerges into the village, it is to find the body of a young woman dead in the middle of the street…

With Superintendent Kirk short staffed, he asks Harriet for help. She soon discovers the young lady, Wendy Percival, is nicknamed, “Wicked Wendy,” and is known as something of a flirt. However, although she has caused some disruption among several young men, it seems the case is not going to be a simple one to solve.

I really enjoyed this novel, even if I did not find it worked quite as well as the first. I like the fact that Walsh has brought in new characters, although she does seem to want to use them all and sometimes it seems that, despite the advice to only travel where absolutely necessary, almost everyone is haring about the country visiting each other. Still, we have Helen; Harriet’s disapproving sister in law, who is always interesting as a character, the delightful Dowager Duchess and Mary Parker, among others. I thought the author really portrayed the period well and the mystery, if slightly confusing at times, made you think about the choices that sometimes had to be made in war time. I look forward to reading on and will certainly read the next in the series.
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on 18 April 2017
A wonderful book. It describes an era that I lived through, but was too young to understand: the blackout, the rationing, the feeling of something going on outside one's own life. It recalls the happy life of young children, securely away from the areas of conflict and bombing doing and enjoying all the simple pleasures of childhood. The plot could have been written by DLS herself, gripping, complex and clever. Married Harriet is so nice and loveable that I wish she were real. Duke Gerald and his son come out as much nicer people than would be expected in the light of their bitchy wife/mother. I am glad that I was not an adult in 1940. I never missed the pleasures that wartime deprived people of, and this book shows that life continues despite hardship and dietary nightmares. The book is a worthy successor to DLS's original series, and I look forward to reading books three and four, which I have already purchased. If I were allowed, I would give this book six or seven stars.
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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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VINE VOICEon 9 January 2014
I picked up an inexpensive copy of this after hearing an interview with Jill Paton Walsh about her latest Peter Wimsey book. It is a thoroughly enjoyable whodunit. The principal characters are captured well enough though the murders are a little disappointing; the first is a common assault and the second, though spectacular, is far fetched even for detective fiction. What is very well done, as was always the case with Dorothy L Sayers, is that the sense of time and place is brilliantly captured. Being in a war when nothing has really happened yet but living under a constant threat is a consistent background. Then there are the difficulties of travel, rationing, suspicion of strangers, all woven into the plot and adding substance and reality to the story
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on 18 February 2018
I particularly like the references to the war and how people coped, their thoughts, actions etc. The characters are well thought out and evoke empathy while the plot is sufficiently complicated to be intriguing. It all comes together very well.
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on 30 October 2017
OK but doesn't quite work. certainly not vintage Sayers
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on 22 January 2013
Rating is for J.P.L-s understanding how the wheels in Dorothy L. Sayers head must have clicked. That is why, that she is able to regenerate the D.L.S. prose. To achieve this, J.P.L. must have done her hard homework on Whimsey times (and as such: on D.L.S times to), and that`s why she is able to deliver a quality product. And the best of it is that Jill Paton Walsh herself IS ALSO PRESENT THERE in the texts, maybe not much more as a lingering fragrance, but I think it is a honorable thing to do: to be present. I think, the Dorothy-fans eagerly await a nearer acquaintance with her!
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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 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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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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