The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh

The Late Scholar cover

The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh and published in 2013 is one of those books in which she has taken the Dorothy L. Sayers characters, Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey and written a tale, supposedly in the style of Sayers. I read the first one which Walsh wrote, actually she finished a book which Sayers had begun, and I wasn’t too convinced by it as I recall.

But either I’m getting less fussy or this one was better. Set in 1953, Peter is now the Duke of Denver due to the death of his elder brother and part of his duties is to be the ‘visitor’ of an Oxford University college, St Severins.

There has been quite a lot of upset at the college between two warring factions of fellows. Some want to sell a rare book which may have been owned by King Alfred, and some of the writing in it may even be by the king. The other faction want to sell the book so that some land can be bought as a money making opportunity for the college.

The voting for and against has been at a deadlock and it seems that in desperation someone has taken to murder as a way of winning the vote. Harriet and Peter, with the help of Bunter of course sort things out.

Jill Paton Walsh does a good job of writing the characters, albeit they are less witty, mainly because they are now married, the storyline lacks the ‘will they won’t they’ sparkle of the earlier Sayers books. Peter and Harriet are now an old married couple with almost grown up sons, the chase has been long won and Peter doesn’t have to dress up in a harlequin suit again. A shame really as it was fun when Harriet kept turning his offers of marriage down. Especially as a large amount of the female readers would have jumped at the chance to marry someone like him, including Sayers herself.