Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The Wyndham Case: Review
The Wyndham Case is Jill Paton Walsh's debut mystery novel. Starring Imogen Quy (rhymes with "why"), a part-time nurse who sees to the needs of the fellows and students of the imaginary Cambridge College of St. Agatha's, the mystery begins with the death of Philip Skellow, a scholarship student who was not much liked by his fellow students. Teased and scorned, he was often alone...and that is how he died--alone in the Wyndham Case, an eccentric library, and apparently in the act of robbing the library of one of its precious tomes.
Imogen is compassionate and intelligent and believes in thinking things through. She can't quite decide if the death is accident or murder, but then various threads are brought to her to sort out. There is a missing rare book (missing from a private collection, not the Wyndham Case), the missing roommate of the dead student, a second death by drowning, an absent-minded professor who has also disappeared--and when found claims he has been imprisoned in a dungeon, feuding librarians, and unrequited love. In the end, Imogen not only helps the police to solve the case, but she continues on to clear the murdered fellowship student of the charge of theft.
This was a decent first outing in the mystery field for Paton Walsh. It's well-written and the plot moves quickly. I found her main character very interesting and likeable--and it's a first for me to have an academic mystery solved by the college nurse. And I have to say that I much prefer her handling her own characters rather than trying to follow in Sayers' footsteps. She does okay with Lord Peter--but she's no Sayers. The Wyndham Case wraps up nicely and I like the way her Inspector Mike Parsons seems very human--he's no super-cop; he's just a decent man trying to the best he can and arrange for what justice he can. Three stars for a solid British mystery.