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Thrones, Dominations [Paperback]

Dorothy L Sayers , Jill Paton Walsh
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 17 1998
It is 1936 and Lord Peter Wimsey has returned from his honeymoon to set up home with his cherished new wife, the novelist Harriet Vane. As they become part of fashionable London society they encounter the glamorous socialite Rosamund Harwell and her wealthy impressario husband Laurence. Unlike the Wimseys, they are not in love - and all too soon, one of them is dead. A murder case that only Lord Peter Wimsey can solve.

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From Amazon

Asked by her new husband, the gentleman detective Lord Peter Wimsey, why she is having trouble writing her latest mystery novel, Harriet Vane explains, "When I needed the money, it justified itself. It was a job of work, and I did it as well as I could, and that was that. But now, you see, it has no necessity except itself. And, of course, it's hard; it's always been hard, and it's getting harder. So when I'm stuck I think, this isn't my livelihood, and it isn't great art, it's only detective stories. You read them and write them for fun." Is this a clue to the mystery of why Dorothy L. Sayers put aside her 13th full-length Lord Peter novel in 1938 and never finished it? She had made lots of money, and was much more interested in translating Dante and writing about religion. Or is it another excellent novelist, Jill Paton Walsh, speculating--in a perfect imitation of Sayers's voice--on what might have happened? Walsh was invited by the estate of Sayers's illegitimate son, Anthony Fleming, to finish Thrones, Dominations. She has done a splendid job, certain to please Sayers loyalists on the "dorothyl" listserv as well as those new to the Wimsey canon. Lord Peter has been made much more human and interesting by marriage; Harriet is a wise and acerbic companion; and the story, about the murders of two beautiful young women involved with a theatrical producer, is full of twists and connivance. There's also a fascinating subplot involving the soon-to-abdicate King Edward VII and a country on the brink of World War II. Earlier Wimseys in paperback include The Five Red Herrings, Gaudy Night, Murder Must Advertise, and Unnatural Death. Books in print by Walsh include a mystery called A Piece of Justice and a novel, The Serpentine Cave. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

After Sayers married off Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane in Busman's Honeymoon (1937), she devoted herself to translating Dante's Divine Comedy. A few short stories later appeared, noting the arrival of three Wimsey sons, and there was a rumor that suggested Sayers had another Wimsey novel in the works. Forty years after Sayers's death, that book has been triumphantly completed by British novelist Walsh (a 1994 Booker Prize finalist for Knowledge of Angels), following the original outline. If it is true that Sayers wrote the beginning, Walsh has done her predecessor a great service. Once the cast and context are established through some long exposition, the pace picks up, particularly after theatrical producer Laurence Harwell, an acquaintance of the Wimseys, discovers his cherished wife Rosamund strangled. As the nation mourns the death of King George V, upper-class women purchase black wardrobes, some of which are augmented with stylish white collars, an element which later figures as a clue. Germany invades the Rhineland. Uncrowned, Edward VIII continues to socialize with Nazis and to rendezvous with Mrs. Simpson. Lord Peter is recruited to persuade Edward to accept his responsibilities, but abdication is inevitable. The mystery involves two cases of blackmail as well as a second murder. Despite a large cast of suspects, ranging from two inept felons to a society portrait painter, every lead seems to come to a dead end. Typical of Sayers's novels, the solution derives from coincidences and some awkward plot devices. But readers have always turned to her mysteries for other reasons, such as the way Peter and Harriet settle the tumult four months of marriage has visited upon them. Harriet uncomfortably accepts her position as Lady Peter, with money and servants, while maintaining her independent identity as a mystery writer. In fact, her discussion of a plot problem with Peter helps him break a suspect's alibi. Sayers fans will relish the cooperative sleuthing of Peter, Harriet and the self-effacing Bunter as Walsh deftly captures and subtley updates the spirit of the series, endowing the iconic characters with additional depth and complexity.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thrones, Dominations is an excellent read and with the small exception of some grammatical conventions that are modern and not from Sayers' time, it reads like a dream. Peter and Harriet read like they did in "Strong Poison" when Harriet Vane was introduced, except she has matured and their relationship has changed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not quite the real thing April 25 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In my mind, Dorothy Sayers is quite the best mystery writer ever. What sets her apart in my mind, is not just the intricate plot of a tightly woven detective stories - you can find plenty of that with Agatha Christie and Cornan Doyle also. The pleasure of reading Sayers comes from her sheer fortitude as a writer with unsurpassed erudition (I use this word as a complement in this case). Her penetrating analysis of the psychology of the main characters. Casually strawn references to Greek Mythologies, European history, and, of course, deliciously wonton quotations from classical writers and poets. This is what makes reading Sayers such a pleasure. (I follow most of her references, but am still searching the correct source of King Cophetua and Pandarus) I especially enjoyed Wimsey in the context of his pursuit of Vane in the four books Sayers herself wrote, with all of his (Sayers') finest display of the intellectual prowess. From this angle, Thrones and Dominations was a sad disappointment. But then again, I don't see how anyone without the turn of the century classical education and Sayers own intellect can duplicate the feat. Ms. Walsh's Wimsey and Vane have none of the sparkling intelligence or erudition. In fact, this "new" pair comes across only as a juvenile shadow of the original pair, almost vulgar at times.... Another minor irritation was Ms. Walsh's unrelenting effort to demonstrate to the readers that she did her "homework" by reading all of Sayers' works. There are quite a lot of tiresome verbatim quotes from previous Wimsey-Vane stories and references to the events that were described in previous stories. I would say Sayers herself would have never been so compulsively driven to prove the "continuity" of the authorship. I guess this in the same vein as in "Thou protestth too much!" As a detective story, the plot is good, and overall within the middle range of what Sayers herself would have accomplished.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it! Aug. 12 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am a big fan of the Peter Wimsey books, but I guess I don't qualify as hard-core. I really loved this book. I thought Walsh did an excellent job of recreating the characters and fleshing out a novel from Sayers' notes. The mystery was not incredibly complex, but the pschology in it was interesting. The ending of this book left me feeling ludicrously happy. I like a happy ending emerging from a sordid tale of murder, personally.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Seamless? April 9 2003
Format:Hardcover
No, sorry, if you know Sayers well, you definitely know where Walsh starts off.
All the same it's a nice read, and the Sayers part is, as always, worth it.
:-)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent March 25 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I was amazed at all the awful reviews, because I LOVED this book. Dorothy Sayers is one of my all-time favorite authors and of course it would be impossible to write exactly like her. (I read her translation of Dante in college.) But this book does a great job -- the details are all there, the dry, witty humor is preserved, and I couldn't put it down. Lord Peter isn't exactly the same as in Sayers' mysteries, but he isn't exactly the same in each one of Sayers' mysteries, either. He develops, he changes, and now he's married but not boring. The writing is excellent and very true to form.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Zzzzz Jan. 31 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Commits the unpardonable (and almost impossible) sin of making Peter Wimsey boring.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not the Sequel to Busman's Honeymoon Oct. 24 2001
By noneal
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In Murder Must Advertise, Wimsey briefly portrays a charicature of himself as a cold, stiff, conceited, well-educated lord. It's an hilarious episode, since it's a ruse perpetrated by the true Lord Peter (dear Lord Peter!) - quick-witted, playful, noble in the ancient sense.

In Thrones, Dominations, however, not only Wimsey, but also Harriet, Parker, and Bunter are sad, pale imitations of themselves. There's even one scene in which Parker says something abysmal like, "I don't mind if Bunter takes photgraphs. I have seen Bunter's photographs before. They are of a good quality. He knows better than to mess up the evidence, too." Who ARE these people? It's true that Wimsey and Harriet still quote various texts at one another. In the grand style of an ill-begot sequel, however, the majority of the quoting is from Sayer's previous works - half the sentences seem to start with "Remember that time when we...?". There's a very obnoxious mix of constant reference to Sayers' novels, a desire to wrap up all the "loose ends" in them, and complete lack of any resemblence to them.
More upsetting, however, than the problems with style and characterization, is the heavy-handed way in which Walsh handles the moral and ethical dilemmas Sayers carefully developed over the whole of the LPW series. The worst error is perhaps made just in the "wrapping-up" tone that permeates the novel - as if Lord Peter and Harriet had reached their pinnacle, and would not grow any farther. One equally striking, however, is Walsh's incapacity to deal delicately and knowledgeably with the notion of nobility.
Thrones, Dominations may be a decent book. It's not an especially intricate or interesting mystery story - it has none of the technical descriptions and details that characterize Sayers' books. But it's certainly not a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars approach with caution
As you must have gathered from other reviews, this is an enjoyable book in the Lord Peter Whimsey tradition. Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2001 by "cairenth@hotmail.com"
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy a mannered mystery à la 1930s; it's not Shakepeare!
Having read some, not all, of the singular Dorothy Sayers, and having marveled at the word craft of Jill Paton Walsh (The Emperor's Winding Sheet) I had a spasm of impulsive... Read more
Published on May 6 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy a mannered mystery à la 1930s; it's not Shakepeare!
Having read some, not all, of the singular Dorothy Sayers, and having marveled at the word craft of Jill Paton Walsh (The Emperor's Winding Sheet) I had a spasm of impulsive... Read more
Published on May 6 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars This is not a good book
I have read Busman's Honeymoon and most of the other Sayers novels more times than I can remember. I love her style, her humor, her ability to entertain and her ability to use the... Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2000 by Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book, extremely well written.
Jill Paton Walsh has done an amazing, albeit thankless job in "Thrones, Dominations." The dialogue was beautiful, (especially the put-down that Harriet gives to Helen. Read more
Published on June 4 2000
2.0 out of 5 stars Good effort, but�
As a fan of Sayers' Lord Peter books, I looked forward to reading Walsh's effort based on Sayers' notes. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2000
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