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The Late Scholar (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane Series)
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The Late Scholar (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane Series)

3.8 9
by Jill Paton Walsh, Dorothy L. Sayers

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When a dispute among the Fellows of St. Severin's College, Oxford University, reaches a stalemate, Lord Peter Wimsey discovers that as the Duke of Denver he is "the Visitor"—charged with the task of resolving the issue. It is time for Lord Peter and his detective novelist wife, Harriet, to revisit their beloved Oxford, where their long and


When a dispute among the Fellows of St. Severin's College, Oxford University, reaches a stalemate, Lord Peter Wimsey discovers that as the Duke of Denver he is "the Visitor"—charged with the task of resolving the issue. It is time for Lord Peter and his detective novelist wife, Harriet, to revisit their beloved Oxford, where their long and literate courtship finally culminated in their engagement and marriage.

At first, the dispute seems a simple difference of opinion about a valuable manuscript that some of the Fellows regard as nothing but an insurance liability, which should be sold to finance a speculative purchase of land. The voting is evenly balanced. The Warden would normally cast the deciding vote, but he has disappeared. And when several of the Fellows unexpectedly die as well, Lord Peter and Harriet set off on an investigation to uncover what is really going on at St. Severin's.

With this return in The Late Scholar to the Oxford of Gaudy Night, which many readers regard as their favorite of Sayers's original series, Jill Paton Walsh at once revives the wit and brilliant plotting of the Golden Age of detective fiction.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 04/21/2014
In Walsh’s cleverly plotted fourth mystery featuring the titular husband-wife sleuthing team—her second wholly original effort authorized by the Dorothy Sayers estate—Wimsey has succeeded to the title of the Duke of Denver after the death of his elder brother, Gerald, in the previous book, The Attenbury Emeralds (2010). One of Wimsey’s new responsibilities as duke is to serve as “the Visitor” for Oxford’s St. Severin’s College, a role that requires him to referee disputes among the college’s fellows. Just such a controversy has sprung up. Some fellows want to sell a rare manuscript of Boethius’s Consolations of Philosophy that may have belonged to Alfred the Great, who translated the work from Latin into Anglo-Saxon, in order to buy some land, while others believe that such a sale would betray the institution’s values. A series of disturbing incidents—including a fatal fall down stairs suspiciously similar to a murder method that Wimsey’s detective-story writer wife, Harriet Vane, has used in her fiction—causes the couple to suspect a killer is at work. Walsh’s pitch-perfect re-creation of the charismatic leads is a delight. Sayers fans can only hope for more. Agent: Phyllis Westberg, Harold Ober Associates. (June)
From the Publisher

"Cleverly plotted....Walsh's pitch-perfect re-creation of the charasmatic leads is a delight. Sayers fans can only hope for more." —Publishers Weekly (starred review) on The Late Scholar


"Hundreds of Sherlock Holmes stories have been written by authors other than Conan Doyle. Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler are others whose deaths did not prevent their fictional creations from continuing to live. Occasionally, such pastiches and homages succeed, but not too often. It’s not simply a question of imitating a style of writing. Just as important are a sense of time and place, the language (and slang) of the period, and its social backdrop. And, of course, a hero acceptable to lovers of the original. Jill Paton Walsh, assuming the mantle of Dorothy L. Sayers, convinces on all counts....Sayers would not have recognised that [THE ATTENBURY EMERALDS] wasn’t her own work." —The London Times

"Luckily, Wimsey has Jill Paton Walsh to continue his life, cunningly framing his first case as a remembrance that serves as an origin and an encapsulation….A pitch-perfect Golden Age mystery; not a pastiche but a gem of a period puzzle that belongs on the shelf beside the Wimsey originals." —The Financial Times (UK)

"If you're a Dorothy L Sayers fan who has been obliged to feed your habit by reading and re-reading the books featuring her aristocratic sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey help is at hand....Fans will be pleased that it is an absolute treat: civilised, intelligent and spellbinding…. Channelling the authority Sayers employed right up to her final book, Walsh shows that she has the full measure of the imperishable Lord Peter and the hyper-intelligent Harriet Vane." —The Express (UK)

Kirkus Reviews
Intrigue and murder in academe lead to further adventures for aristocratic sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey, the once-carefree second son now approaching senior citizenship.Ever since a fire killed his older brother and damaged Bredon Hall, the seat of the Duke of Denver, Peter has taken his duties more seriously. Now he's surprised to find that along with the title comes the office of Visitor to St. Severin's College at Oxford. Peter took his degree at Oxford, as did his duchess, the former Harriet Vane, and she supports his obligation to the dreaming spires. When they arrive, they find St. Severin's fellows deadlocked in a vote that only the Visitor can resolve. The wrangle centers on a medieval manuscript; half the fellows want to keep it, and half want to sell in exchange for much-needed land on the edge of town. In the meantime, the warden of the college has left abruptly without so much as a toothbrush, and no one has seen him for three months. Two fellows have suffered incidents that echo Harriet's detective novels, which she based on her husband's cases, and another fellow has taken a fatal tumble down stairs. It's the first in a series of murders or attempted murders connected to an unfavorable anonymous book review, a suicide, a frightened widow and a case of blackmail. Addressing all these issues and saving St. Severin's takes patience and diligence for Peter and Harriet—and for readers who may fidget over the leisurely pace and the insulated academic setting in post-WWII Britain.Walsh's (The Attenbury Emeralds, 2011, etc.) respectful attempt to keep the franchise going will invite the scrutiny of Wimsey purists, and newcomers may find the Duke affected. Even so, many fans will eagerly welcome back their beloved sleuth and enjoy seeing Harriet hold her own in a thoughtfully constructed mystery.
Library Journal
Lord Peter Wimsey, now the Duke of Denver, receives a summons to St. Severin's College in Oxford. It seems that, along with his new title, he also inherited the position of Visitor at St. Severin's, a mediator who is called upon to settle disputes among the Fellows of the college when voting on an issue is unresolved. St. Severin's possesses a priceless book alleged to have belonged to Alfred the Great. One faction of the Fellows wants to sell the book in order to purchase land to later sell at profit, while the other opposes the sale on the grounds that the scholarly value of the volume far outweighs its monetary worth. Deadlocked, they call in the Visitor. Upon arrival, Wimsey finds the Warden of the college missing and a trail of mysterious deaths and accidents, with Fellows being picked off one by one. Believing these deaths and accidents are intended to tip the balance of votes to favoring the sale of the book, Wimsey and his wife, Harriet Vane, begin investigating. VERDICT Walsh took up the mantle of Dorothy L. Sayers in 1998 when she completed Sayers's unfinished manuscript, A Presumption of Death. Though die-hard Sayers fans may find this title lacks the witty flavor of the originals, this is an entertaining and convoluted puzzle for readers who enjoy Golden Age mysteries. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/14.]—Sandra Knowles, South Carolina State Lib., Columbia

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Lord Peter Wimsey Series , #15
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

JILL PATON WALSH is the Booker Prizenominated and Whitbread Prizewinning author of several adult novels, numerous mysteries, including her continuation of Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries Thrones, Dominations and A Presumption of Death, and many award-winning children's books. She lives in Cambridge, England. DOROTHY L. SAYERS, whom The Los Angeles Times named "one of the greatest mystery writers of [the twentieth] century," died in 1957.

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The Late Scholar (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane Series) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walsh is a good writer in general, but she doesn't capture the historical setting or the language effectively. For example, she has people first-naming each other almost from the moment they meet. That was not the custom in Britain or at Oxford even in the early 60s, never mind the 40s and 50s. (Even in the States in the 1970s and 80s there were professors that never addressed students by their first names.) The idea that Harriet takes her plots from Peter's cases begs the question of what she wrote about before she met him. It seems also that Walsh needed to reread Sayers more carefully. In the case that first introduced Harriet and Peter, the murderer was cousin not uncle to the victim. Miss DeVine would never gush about "dear Harriet" and various other characters and circumstances are inaccurately remembered or represented. But the novel was a good read. It just wasn't totally faithful to Sayers or her time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed all of Walsh's "takes" on Peter Wimsey, but thought this was the best yet. The characters are well-developed and quite true to Sayers', and Walsh makes use of some fun references to real scholars, such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, adding to the period charm of the novel. A good read!
Anonymous 19 days ago
Once i got past my disappointment that It was not Sayers voice, I enjoyed the book. The author caught on to Harriet but never quite got Peter. Missed the question on place, womens roles in life, and other Sayers subltities however it was nice to have one last read before saying good bye to H and P.
CinziaCA More than 1 year ago
I had to force myself to finish it. The plot was ok but the prose was pedestrian and repetitive.
teacupreader More than 1 year ago
I was so pleased to have another opportunity to spend time with Lord Peter (he just won't ever be the Duke) and Harriet. There are a few "notes" that don't sound quite right, but in general Ms. Paton Walsh does a credible job of recreating these characters. On a technical note, I found the overly large font very distracting. Just make the book shorter; I'll still buy it!
FroggyBella More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Dorothy L. Sayers' books. I have read all the Lord Peter Wimsey books and all the ones that Jill Paton Walsh has written about the Wimseys. I was so happy and excited when I learned that there was to be a new Lord Peter Wimsey book! This book holds true to Sayers' style and to the characters as written by her. It was great to visit again with these characters and to also get updates on some of the other characters, like Peter's mother, Charles, Lord St. George, Freddy, etc. The plot of the story was a little complex and the outcome not completely expected, which was great. It was a great story, a good detective story for Lord Peter and Harriet. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was wooden and a great disappointment . Her third a prequel with ending on desth of brother was good. Oxford setting sterile and uninteresting suggest borrow m.a.@sparta
iowashort More than 1 year ago
Outstanding, better than Dorothy Sayers originals. I have been a fan of Sayers for years and not count Jill Paton Walsh as one of my favorite authors. If you haven't read her earlier books on Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane this will make you hurry to read them also.
prussblue10 More than 1 year ago
Walsh did nothing wrong to harm Sayers good reputation. An interesting read of a bit older Peter & Harriet albeit they have aged gracefully and with strength. Enjoyed it and hope you will too.