The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh (2013)
This is a new murder mystery set in an Oxford college in the 1950s featuring Lord Peter Wimsey – now a Duke – and his wife Harriet Vane,
Along with his dukedom, Wimsey is delighted to find that he has inherited the duties of ‘visitor’ at an Oxford college and when the fellows of the college appeal to him to resolve a dispute, he and Harriet set off happily to spend some time in Oxford.
But this is a very embittered dispute because of the potential repercussions for the future of the college with the voting evenly balanced between two passionate parties until several of the fellows unexpectedly die and the Warden disappears.
Old cases come back to haunt Peter and Harriet as 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.
This is my favourite of Jill Paton Walshs continuations of Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey novels and was a joy to read.
Unlike many reviewers I do feel that Peter & Harriet are still recognisable and familiar to fans of the series albeit with more maturity and a degree of evolution in response to the changing times indicated by i) Harriet handling their son’s lack of academic success far better than Peter & ii) Harriets attempts to continue the wartime loosening of the social barriers between the Bunter and Wimsey families.
Okay, the story was a bit fantastic at points and I am not convinced that the Police in the 1950s would continue to give Peter the latitude that they do but to a certain extent I don’t care as I love the characters and this is a well written enjoyable book.