I waited for the paperback of the Attenbury Emeralds, and my only regret is not leaving it a little longer and just buying it second hand. The word thI waited for the paperback of the Attenbury Emeralds, and my only regret is not leaving it a little longer and just buying it second hand. The word that comes to mind is shoddy.
Jill Patton Walsh's Peter Wimsey is unrecognisable, self-indulgent, self pitying and out of touch with his core of moral rectitude tempered by feudal sense of obligation and duty.
The opening pages dive straight into anachronistic discussion of 'flashbacks' to the first world war, forgetting apparently, that he was also in the Second. The similarly anachronistic preachiness of toleration and diversity, and the guilty admissions of racist behaviour 'back before the war' is not merely anachronistic guilt about bigotry but inaccurate depictions of bigotry. Anti-Semitism was a worse problem than racism in that period, and yet, it's unlikely that a mixed race woman would be a lecturer at LSE in 1942.
The story itself is involuted, ridiculously dependent on coincidences and silly behaviour, and despite all its twists and turns of seeming complexity, painfully obvious as to who committed the crimes. I admit to a certain incredulity that the person concerned did not find the later murders rather difficult to accomplish given their advancing years. My incredulity is further strained by the self-indulgent tripe based around the problems of insurance claims and death taxes. Peter, we are given to believe by Dorothy Sayers, is a concerned, financially savvy landlord -- but not in this book. Here, apparently he hasn't bothered rebuilding the bombed out land he owns, and the death duties will require all his money, all Denver's money and to sell most the land besides. IHT was high then, yes, but not that high.
Hanging a lantern on the fact that the story requires a series of coincidences, a piece of amazingly poor judgement by Peter in the first section of the story (who has no problem questioning children on other occasions) does not make those instances any better. Indeed, they just make it apparent that the author was well aware of the laziness of her storytelling, but just couldn't be bothered to fix it. Execrable....more