Monday, 25 August 2014

The Late Scholar - Jill Paton Walsh - Dorothy Sayers

The Late ScholarThe Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A new murder mystery featuring Lord Peter Wimsey - now a Duke - and his wife Harriet Vane, set in an Oxford college in the 1950s.
Peter Wimsey is pleased to discover that along with a Dukedom he has inherited the duties of 'visitor' at an Oxford college.When the fellows appeal to him to resolve a dispute, he and Harriet set off happily to spend some time in Oxford.
But the dispute turns out to be embittered. The voting is evenly balanced between two passionate parties - evenly balanced, that is, until several of the fellows unexpectedly die.The Warden has a casting vote, but the Warden has disappeared.
And the causes of death of the deceased fellows bear an uncanny resemblance to the murder methods in Peter's past cases - methods that Harriet has used in her published novels .

I had never read any of the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy L Sayers and therefore had no pre-conceptions about what another writer would achieve by resurrecting these characters. I felt I was at a disadvantage by not having read any of these novels since Jill Paton Walsh made references to a previous case solved by this detective that I could not relate to.

The book had good descriptive passages to acquaint the novice with both Oxford and the University but I felt that the language was too chewy and the Latin references were lost on me since I have not studied Latin and this is such a huge part of the Oxford University clique.

Essentially this was about the Duke of Denver (Peter Wimsey) discovering he is a Visitor to Oxford and he is asked to settle a dispute among the fellows on whether to go ahead with the sale of a medieval book to get funds to buy some land next door which has come up for sale. When the fellows are asked to vote the death of one of the fellows brings the vote to a tie and as the Duke of Denver delves deeper into the sale of the land and the medieval book so there are more deaths along the way and he and his wife and butler work together to unravel the mystery and uncover the murderer/s.

I found the story although pacy enough in terms of building tension and atmosphere was just too laborious to hold my interest beyond halfway through the book. I could not summon enough enthusiasm to continue to the end of the book, it was just not my type of novel in terms of language and therefore not for me. Having said that, it was well written and if the language had been lighter and more made of connecting the relationships of the characters I may well have stayed with it to the end. I just found the characters lacked the sparkle that could have kept me reading - as it was I really didn't care enough to read on to the end. DNF

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review

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