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A Presumption of Death by Jill Paton Walsh

A Presumption of Death (2002)

by Jill Paton Walsh

Other authors: Edward Petherbridge (Narrator), Dorothy L Sayers (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Wimsey sequels - Publication Order (2)

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Book # 13 of the series, that was written based upon manuscript by Dorothy Sayers, the creator of charming Lord Peter Wimsey. Paton Walsh definitely is not Dorothy L. Sayers, but she does a very good job at bringing Lord and Lady Wimsey to life again. I think this book was better than her prior, Thrones, Dominations, that was written from notes and a half written novel by Sayers. I can't wait to read the next ones: The Attenburry Emeralds and The Late Scholar. ( )
  MrsRK | Nov 21, 2016 |
Excellent narration by Edward Petherbridge makes great listening of a Harriet Vane and Lord Wimsey murder mystery written by Jill Paton Walsh that was based on Dorothy Sayers' notes. An encompassing suspenseful story that puts you right there in the English countryside, and briefly in London, during WW II. There's loads of atmosphere depicting the sacrifices and hardships endured by the British citizenry, and I particularly liked how daily family life and the presence and care of young children was included. So often the little ones are merely marginalized minor characters, but here they're appealing and entertaining players in an overall intriguing novel.
  PaperDollLady | Apr 21, 2015 |
A delight to read. Details of life during wartime (WWII) in England are fascinating.. How technology has changed! They painted out road and railroad station signs, whereas today, GPS would find the location immediately. Loved the quotations from poetry and the Bible--how shallow, crass and commercial our society seems by comparison in the 21st C. ( )
  Elleneer | Nov 22, 2014 |
Where I got the book: my bookshelf.

All in all, this is probably the weakest of the Paton Walsh Wimsey books. Paton Walsh does a reasonable facsimile of Sayers' high-life dialogue, but falls down when it comes to rendering the speech of ordinary people--and this novel puts the Wimseys among the villagers of Paggleham, where Harriet and the children are escaping from the London Blitz while Peter--who, by this time, must be getting a bit geriatric for intelligence work--goes off to Destinations Unknown to do something or the other, purely, I suspect, to raise tension as Harriet worries whether he'll return.

Paton Walsh seems determined to get as many characters from the Wimsey books into this one as possible, along with some code-breaking à la The Nine Tailors. The overall effect is something of a patchwork pastiche, not altogether pleasing to the palate. She's imitating the wartime Wimsey stories, of course; ghoul as I am, I'd much rather she'd dealt with the death of young Jerry, because she handles Wimsey tragic better than Wimsey whimsical.

One for the fans, entirely, with nothing much to commend it to the general reader. An OK mystery, but just OK. ( )
  JaneSteen | Dec 29, 2013 |
Even less of a Sayers novel than Thrones, Dominations, as far as I can tell, so it's really basically official fanfiction. Looking at it in that light, it's pretty good: some of it is quite Sayers-ish, and Harriet and Peter's relationship isn't quite so overdone as in the other book. Gets a nice atmosphere of wartime Britain, and it's all worked out quite neatly. I love the hints at the development of Peter's brother, actually.

It's entertaining for what it is, and very easy and quick to read. If you're looking for an evening's brain candy, you could do worse. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jill Paton Walshprimary authorall editionscalculated
Petherbridge, EdwardNarratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sayers, Dorothy LAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Griffini, Grazia MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Honoria Lucasta, Dowager Duchess of Denver, to her
American friend, Cornelia, wife of Lambert B.
Vander-Huysen, of New York.

Bredon Hall,                                            12th November, 1939
Duke's Denver, Norfolk

Dear Cornelia,
I think I had better write you my usual Christmas letter now, because naturally the war has upset the posts a little; and one can't really expect ships to go quickly when they are convoyed about like a school crocodile, so tedious for them, or keep to Grand Geometry, or whatever the straight course is called, when they have to keep darting about like snipe to avoid submarines, and anyway I like to get my correspondence in hand early and not do it at the last moment with one's mind full of Christmas trees - though I suppose there will be a shortage of those this year, but, as I said to our village school-mistress, so long as the children get their presents I don't suppose they'll mind whether you hang them on a conifer or the Siegfried Line, and as a matter of fact Denver is thinning a lot of little firs out of the plantation, and you'd better ask him for one before he sends them all to the hospitals.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031299138X, Mass Market Paperback)

While Lord Peter is abroad on a secret mission, Harriet Vane, now Lady Peter Wimsey, takes their children to safety in the country. But there's no escape from war: rumors of spies abound, glamorous RAF pilots and flirtatious land-girls scandalize the villagers, and the blackout makes rural lanes as sinister as London's alleys. And when a practice air-raid ends with a young woman's death, it's almost a shock to hear that the cause is not enemy action, but murder. Or is it? With Peter away, Harriet sets out to find out whodunit...and the chilling reason why.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:06 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"Sixty years after Dorothy L. Sayers began her unfinished Lord Peter Wimsey novel, Thrones, Dominations, Booker Prize finalist Jill Paton Walsh took on the challenge of completing the manuscript - with extraordinary success." "Now, Jill Paton Walsh fulfills those hopes in A Presumption of Death. Although Sayers never began another Wimsey novel, she did leave clues. Drawing on "The Wimsey Papers," in which Sayers showed various members of the family coping with wartime conditions, Walsh has devised an irresistible story set in 1940, at the start of the Blitz in London." "Lord Peter is abroad on secret business for the Foreign Office, while Harriet Vane, now Lady Peter Wimsey, has taken their children to safety in the country. But war has followed them there - glamorous RAF pilots and even more glamorous land-girls scandalize the villagers, and the blackout makes the nighttime lanes as sinister as the back alleys of London. Daily life reminds them of the war so constantly that, when the village's first air-raid practice ends with a real body on the ground, it's almost a shock to hear the doctor declare that it was not enemy action, but plain, old-fashioned murder. Or was it?" "At the request of the overstretched local police, Harriet reluctantly agrees to investigate."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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