Walsh returns with a mystery based on characters created by British crime writer Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957).
The former Harriet Vane, reading the obituary of Lord Attenbury, asks her husband, Lord Peter Wimsey, about his first case, finding the lost Attenbury emeralds. With help from his man Bunter, Wimsey recounts the tale of the missing gems, part of a set once owned by the Maharaja of Sinorabad, which disappeared back in the ’20s at the engagement party of Attenbury’s daughter. Oddly enough, during the dark days of World War II, the treasure goes missing again, and it is up to Lord Peter, relying on Bunter as his sounding board, to find it once more. His task will endanger several others, including a Persian scholar, and stymie an insurance payout until the emeralds can be rightly identified. The final disposition of the emeralds occurs while the Wimseys grapple with a fire and a death that force them to reconsider longstanding family roles.
Walsh (A Presumption of Death, 2003, etc.) delicately balances the mainstays of Sayers’ fiction—drawing rooms, servants, a coolly elegant sleuth—with more contemporary touches. Readers will find a nod to cerebral charm, with a touch of modern egalitarianism.