Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
The Attenbury Emeralds
on 11 March 2017
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.