Dorothy L. Sayers
Jill Paton Walsh
Lord Peter Wimsey lives again, courtesy of Walsh's completion of a 70-page typescript Sayers abandoned in 1939. In a particularly happy accident for fans whose nostalgia has turned mystery's Golden Age into a historical retreat from the present, Wimsey's return from his honeymoon with mystery novelist Harriet Vane is given the most distinctive real-world political framework of all Sayers's novels: the death of King George V, which plunges England into mourning and into the round of Bertie Windsor's romances. As Wimsey and his bride feast on each other's wit and charm, and Bertie grazes more indiscriminately, news comes from Hampton that noted beauty Rosamund Harwell has been strangled at the cottage her besotted husband never had time to have decorated for her. When theatrical angel Laurence Harwell produces an alibi for his wife's murder, Wimsey, still shaken by his first look at the corpse of a personal acquaintance, makes the rounds of Rosamund's disgraced father, recently released from prison after serving time for fraud; of Streaker and Basher, the lowlife prison mates who were blackmailing him; and of the friends of vanished actress Gloria Tallant, who has a surprisingly close connection to Rosamund. Meanwhile, back in town, Harriet is vanquishing her husband's snobbish sister-in-law with a queenly ease worthy of Richardson's Pamela. The murder plot is ordinary, even creaky in its deceptions, but delighted fans--ravenous for their first glimpse in over 60 years of Wimsey's foppish relations, Harriet's professional friends, Bunter, Chief Inspector Parker, and the rest--will be more than compensated by seeing all the old crowd present and faithfully evoked by Walsh (The Serpentine Cave, 1997, etc.).