Book review: The Late Scholar, by Jill Patton Walsh

After enjoying The Attenbury Emeralds so much, I had high expectations for my second experience with Walsh.

So I was a little let down just because The Late Scholar doesn’t have the same dramatic scope. It’s contained only in the present, rather than a series of tales set over decades. Less PTSD material, too. Instead the story is set in Oxford, which provides many nice callbacks to Gaudy Night, as Peter and Harriet reflect on the start of their relationship. The mystery is also similar to the one in Gaudy Night, though more hardcore — a college in tumult with rifts recently turned to murders. The controversy comes down to finances versus an ancient manuscript from the time of King Alfred, which I think is a familiar one (in broad terms) to many academic establishments.

As with Gaudy Night, the weak point of this book is the introduction of too many similar characters, even of the same gender, who hold slightly different opinions and different roles in the controversy/mystery. I had to look back a few times to remind myself who was who and how they were introduced.

Apart from the mystery and their reminiscenes, there were a few other subjects relating to the Wimsey family, such as where their sons (and Bunter’s son) will go to university, and Peter’s beloved mother in increasingly fragile health.

I did enjoy this book and read it quickly, unwilling to put it down, but it just wasn’t as memorable for me as The Attenbury Emeralds. I am, however, looking forward to the arrival of Thrones, Dominations.

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