Women Sleuths in
Historical Mysteries

World War II England

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womeninworldhistory.com

A Presumption of Death

by Jill Patton Walsh & Dorothy L. Sayers

Jill Walsh, the actual author of this book, has cleverly used bits from mock letters from members of the Lord Peter Wimsey family written in 1939 by Dorothy L Sayers. Lord Peter Wimsey, of course, is Saylors' famous detective. Walsh’s story starts by using the letters to tell us that Peter is on a secret assignment abroad. His wife,Harriet, their two children, and his sister’s brood are situated supposedly out of harms way in their country estate called “Talboys.” Sayers' style is closely followed by Walsh who has Harriet called upon to use her problem solving skills to solve the murder of a Land Army girl and an RAF pilot. Even as the British pull together to face the enemy, Harriet asks herself, "can a spy, a 'sleeper' be in their midst?"

Walsh gives readers vivid details about village “homefront” life in Britain in the years 1939 - 40. Norway has just fallen and fears of a land invasion and bombings are high. Air raid shelters are built, an army base is situated nearby, food, now rationed, is getting scare, children sent down from London to stay in the country are crowded into village homes. Other norms are changing too as young people see an uncertain future before them, women take on new responsibilities, and class lines are blurred.


This is Jill Walsh’s second book based on Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane mysteries. To learn about women in the Land Army and a classroom simulation, access this website: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWlandarmy.htm

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