The Attenbury Emeralds: The New Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane Mystery
by Jill Paton Walsh
Review by Mel Jacob
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312674540
Date: 04 January 2011 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Jill Walsh, using characters created by Dorothy Sayers, has Lord Peter Wimsey and his wife Harriet Vane solve the case of the Attenbury Emeralds from 1921. Initially, Lord Peter recounts his first exposure to the emeralds and his part in their recovery after a theft. Then, in 1951, the current Lord Attenbury approaches Lord Peter to help again when someone else claims the emeralds. Attenbury, in desperate financial straits, needs to sell the emeralds to save the ancestral home.
When Lord Peter first examined the stones, he was shown an inscription in Persian on the back of the main stone and an agent of the maharaja who had owned the stone translated it. The maharaja now wants to buy the stone back, but the then Lord Attenbury refused to sell it because he intended it for a wedding present for his daughter.
Normally, the jewels are kept in a bank vault and only withdrawn for special occasions. Receipts are signed each time. The emeralds have only been out of the hands of the family or a banker a few times. Consequently, it appears difficult to discern when a switch of the stones might have been made.
As Lord Peter reviews the situation and the history of the emeralds, he suspects several deaths that occurred have been murder. Justice demands he unmask the thief and killer.
Invited by the Dorothy Sayers Trust to complete Sayers' unfinished Lord Peter Wimsey novel, Thrones, Dominations, Walsh then wrote A Presumption of Death set in 1941 and now The Attenbury Emeralds encompassing 1921 and 1951. With the success of these, it appears likely Walsh will write more Lord Peter mysteries. She is also a well-known children's author and a successful mystery writer in her own name.