The author Virginia Andrews died quite some time ago but after her death books with her name on the title page still appeared even though they were written by somebody else. We have been told after the death of Dick Francis that his books will continue, they are a 'brand' and it has long been suspected that the books may have been his original idea, but that the writing was done by his late wife, Mary, and now it appears that his son Felix, whose name has appeared on the last two by this author, will be taking over.
There are two extra Mapp and Lucia books written by Tom Holt, and another, Major Benjy by Guy Fraser-Sampson and we all know that there are endless Austen books carrying on with the story or stories of our favourite characters. How one feels about his I suppose is whether you agree that this is a literary liberty which should or should not be allowed, and how well they are written. I have mixed feelings on this subject I will admit.
However, when it comes to Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey I will nail my flag firmly to the mast - the more about this fascinating couple the better as far as I am concerned. I discovered D L Sayers only a few years ago, another one of those authors neglected throughout my life (why?) and in true Elaine fashion, went on the rampage and read the lot. Then I read them again and now I am working my way through them again and it is clear to me that my most favourites are those which feature this duo. Gaudy Night is probably my most favourite of all. So when somebody emailed me (blessings upon your head and my apologies I have forgotten who it was) that there were two more books in print by Jill Paton Walsh in which she continued the Wimsey oeuvre I fell upon them with delight. They are A Presumption of Death and Thrones and Dominations and continue the story after Peter and Harriet's marriage and parenthood. I lapped them up and loved them
And now here is another, the Attenbury Emeralds (published next month) The time is now firmly in the 1950's in Festival of Britain time. No more palatial living for most of the Wimsey's friends and relations, the war has seen to that but Bunter is still here and though he would like to maintain the class distinction he finds it difficult when his son Peter is firm friends with the Wimsey boys.
The book begins with Peter telling Harriet of his first case, the case of the Attenbury Emeralds and how they vanished during a weekend party held to celebrate the engagement of Lady Charlotte, daughter of the Earl of Attenbury to Reginald Northeby, a young man in the City. The family jewels are taken from the vault especially for this occasion and disaster strikes when the large main stone in the necklace goes missing and Peter, lately back from the war and still in a precarious nervous condition ,becomes involved in the investigation. If I tell you that before the stone vanishes, Lord Attenbury had a visit from the representative of an Indian Maharajah who wishes to buy the stone as it belongs to a set in his family, and is turned away then you can see the scene is set for a real 1920s high society type scenario.
The mystery is solved, the emerald is returned and then we come to the present day when the grandson of the Earl of Attenbury wishes to sell the emerald which is safely in the bank's vault and doubt is cast on its ownership and provenance. Is it the real emerald? Is it fake? Somewhere along the line has somebody done a switch? And how can Lord Peter solve this when the emerald has laid unseen for nearly thirty years?
Well, that's it from me. Not going to tell you any more or give away any of the plot. Not that I am sure I could actually, it is incredibly convoluted and at one stage I had to stop and think which emerald was what, and which one was the fake and it was all huge fun and I enjoyed every word.
Jill Paton Walsh has the style and the writing of D L Sayers off to perfection, I cannot tell the difference though I am sure Sayers purists will throw their hands up in the air when I say this ,but I am so in love with Harriet and Peter that I hope this author continues to write even more about them both. I, for one, will have no objections - ever.