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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Finally Finding the Attenbury Emeralds

It's been a while since I had leisure to post anything here, and now I'm cheating a bit by copying part of a reviewlet on The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh that I originally sent to that quintessence of classical mystery lists, DorothyL.

'The Attenbury Emeralds' by Jill Paton Walsh got opened last night. It was open way, wa-ay too late.
This is novel is an interesting read on several levels. The writing rarely rises to the elegant prose of the original Sayers but Lord Peter does occasionally talk some irresistable piffle. The characters of Lord Peter and Bunter are much as they were, and the references to snippets of the original history are much appreciated. In Lady Diana's shenanigans we have a plausible 'first contact' between Lord Peter and Dian de Momery's ilk. The telling of tales within a tale is also from the Sayers canon although she used it in short fiction, not (that I recall offhand) in a novel.
The inevitable comparisons out of the way, what really kept me reading was the unfolding history of the titular jewels. This is no simple story of jewel theft and recovery, but a series of crimes and other problems that, over decades (from Peter as a young man to Peter with a teenaged son) all involve the same main stone.
Having arrived - well past page 50 - at the present day in story-time, I was desolated to discover my bedtime was already long past and I had to close the book for the night.  The next night I picked up, stayed up way too late, and came to an event unlookedfor, so potentially devastating to the characters that I gently closed the book. I stayed away from it for several days until I had digested the immense changes that would result.

These characters, especially Lord Peter and Harriet but also the Duchess and Bunter, have been with me since my teens. Much as I admire Jill Paton Walsh's feat in continuing one of the most famed love stories in detective fiction, I hope she resists any pressure to write another book with them. I am ready to walk away and leave them to lead their own lives, secure in the knowledge that they are in a good place together despite all that has gone before. 

Herewith, in closing, a book trailer in which the author discusses the how and why of writing The Attenbury Emeralds (but does not answer my concern above).

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