A latest entry in the series that continues Dorothy L. Sayers's classic mysteries finds Lord Peter and Harriet returning to the scene of their literate courtship to resolve an Oxford University dispute that is complicated by the disappearance of several prominent Fellows. 50,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
Lord Peter and Harriet return to the scene of their literate courtship to resolve an Oxford University dispute that is complicated by the disappearance of several prominent Fellows. - (Baker & Taylor)
When a dispute among the Fellows of St. Severin's College, Oxford University, reaches a stalemate, Lord Peter Wimsey discovers that as the Duke of Denver he is "the Visitor"—charged with the task of resolving the issue. It is time for Lord Peter and his detective novelist wife, Harriet, to revisit their beloved Oxford, where their long and literate courtship finally culminated in their engagement and marriage.
At first, the dispute seems a simple difference of opinion about a valuable manuscript that some of the Fellows regard as nothing but an insurance liability, which should be sold to finance a speculative purchase of land. The voting is evenly balanced. The Warden would normally cast the deciding vote, but he has disappeared. And when several of the Fellows unexpectedly die as well, Lord Peter and Harriet set off on an investigation to uncover what is really going on at St. Severin's.
With this return in The Late Scholar to the Oxford of Gaudy Night, which many readers regard as their favorite of Sayers's original series, Jill Paton Walsh at once revives the wit and brilliant plotting of the Golden Age of detective fiction.
- (McMillan Palgrave
*Starred Review* We know from internal evidence that it is 1952. The Duke of Denver, Peter Wimsey; his wife, the Duchess, who writes mysteries under her birth name, Harriet Vane; and the ever-present, ever-indispensable manservant, Bunter, are in receipt of a letter from St. Severin's, Oxford. It seems that Peter is the Visitor for the college, and a dispute has come up that he must adjudicate. Shall the college, in dire financial straits, sell a Boethius manuscript? This allows Walsh to write a love letter to Oxford, city and university; to illuminate the large and petty disagreements, both scholarly and personal, that then as now drive academe; to provide a rather alarming number of corpses; and to allow Peter, Harriet, and Bunter to do what they do best. Our beloved characters are not so much in evidence as Oxford itself is, but their words are taken with delight. There are glimpses, too, of Peter's mother, elderly and frail but adorable as ever; of their oldest son, Bredon, who struggles with a future that does not include Balliol; and of Peter Bunter, who has set his sights on the London School of Economics. It does not have quite the tie to Sayers as have earlier volumes in the series, nor does it possess the power of The Attenbury Emeralds (2011), but it is delicious nonetheless. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
Lord Peter Wimsey, now the Duke of Denver, receives a summons to St. Severin's College in Oxford. It seems that, along with his new title, he also inherited the position of Visitor at St. Severin's, a mediator who is called upon to settle disputes among the Fellows of the college when voting on an issue is unresolved. St. Severin's possesses a priceless book alleged to have belonged to Alfred the Great. One faction of the Fellows wants to sell the book in order to purchase land to later sell at profit, while the other opposes the sale on the grounds that the scholarly value of the volume far outweighs its monetary worth. Deadlocked, they call in the Visitor. Upon arrival, Wimsey finds the Warden of the college missing and a trail of mysterious deaths and accidents, with Fellows being picked off one by one. Believing these deaths and accidents are intended to tip the balance of votes to favoring the sale of the book, Wimsey and his wife, Harriet Vane, begin investigating. VERDICT Walsh took up the mantle of Dorothy L. Sayers in 1998 when she completed Sayers's unfinished manuscript, A Presumption of Death. Though die-hard Sayers fans may find this title lacks the witty flavor of the originals, this is an entertaining and convoluted puzzle for readers who enjoy Golden Age mysteries. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/14.]—Sandra Knowles, South Carolina State Lib., Columbia
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