Sixty years after Dorothy L. Sayers began Thrones, Dominations, Booker Prize finalist Jill Paton Walsh took on the challenge of completing the manuscript--with overwhelming success. "Sayers' fans are in Walsh's debt," said the San Francisco Chronicle, "for the transition is seamless; you cannot tell where Sayers leaves off and Walsh begins," and Ruth Rendell called it "extraordinary," asking, "Will Paton Walsh do it again
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1 . A Welcome Return
Posted August 20, 2010 by Susan Schoeffield , Baltimore"A Presumption of Death" is like coming home to a houseful of good friends you haven’t seen in years. There is something comforting in being surrounded by those you love. Ms. Paton Walsh handles the homecoming with the skill of a truly gifted author. Never in this novel do the characters appear alien to those first introduced by Ms. Sayers. But it is not just the familiarity with those characters that makes this such a wonderful read. The storyline itself is what drives the book so pleasantly forward. Against the backdrop of the early days of Germany’s aggression against England in World War II, we are given an insightful look into how that war affected the lives of everyday people. Through her descriptions of a time when rationing, blackouts, and air raid drills were the daily norm, we have a vivid look at how the human spirit rallies itself to serve in any capacity for the common good. Of course, it’s not a Wimsey/Vane story without the inclusion of a dead body. We are taken on a merry chase as we try to unravel this mystery filled with a number of possible suspects, intriguing scenarios and just the right amount of humor. Welcome back, Lord and Lady Peter. You’ve been greatly missed. And thank you, Ms. Paton Walsh, for arranging such a splendid reunion!
February 28, 2003
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Excerpt from A Presumption of Death by Jill Paton Walsh
Honoria Lucasta, Dowager Duchess of Denver, to her American friend, Cornelia, wife of Lambert B. Vander-Huysen, of New York.
12th November, 1939
Duke's Denver, Norfolk
I think I had better write you my usual Christmas letter now, because naturally the war has upset the posts a little; and one can't really expect ships to go quickly when they are convoyed about like a school crocodile, so tedious for them, or keep to Grand Geometry, or whatever the straight course is called, when they have to keep darting about like snipe to avoid submarines, and anyway I like to get my correspondence in hand early and not do it at the last moment with one's mind full of Christmas trees -- though I suppose there will be a shortage of those this year, but, as I said to our village school-mistress, so long as the children get their presents I don't suppose they'll mind whether you hang them on a conifer or the Siegfried Line, and as a matter of fact Denver is thinning a lot of little firs out of the plantation, and you'd better ask him for one before he sends them all to the hospitals