Some people here know that I am a complete detective story addict. Not only do I read them, I read about them, I discuss and analyze them with several articles to my credit (if I may use that expression). What follows is a discussion of the latest Lord Peter Wimsey novel. In case this book has not hit the States yet, let me explain.
When Dorothy L. Sayers abandoned the writing of detective fiction she had completed six chapters of a novel Thrones, Dominations about Lord Peter and Harriet, now married and back from their honeymoon. For various reasons, possibly because of the Abdication Crisis, the novel was not finished. There were a couple of amusing short stories, not of the first order, and a series of letters about the war in The Spectator, purportedly from the Wimsery – Delagardie family through late 1939 early 1940. Then nothing. Sayers went on to write literary and theological essays, religious plays and to translate Dante.
In 1998 Jill Paton Walsh, herself a writer of detective and other novels, published a completed version of Thrones, Dominations. Four years later she wrote A Presumption of Death, which began with those letters and developed various themes in them to create an interesting novel with a much better plot than the previous one, of the Wimseys and others during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. Last year Ms Paton Walsh went further and produced a completely new novel The Attenbury Emeralds about Sayers’s characters, using some references in the various novels and short stories but inventing her own plot.
The book takes place in 1951 and the main theme (the plot is rather silly) is the adjustment everyone has to make to post-war Britain. Lord Peter, Harriet, Bunter, the Parkers have now become Jill Paton Walsh’s characters as much as Sayers’s. Hmmm. This is my take on that development and the latest novel, posted on the Conservative History blog.