Jill Paton Walsh is familiar to me as a children’s author. But at the library last week, I ran across a mystery book written by her and was happily surprised. I love mysteries, and I really like Jill Paton Walsh’s writing. The book is called A Piece of Justice, featuring a lovely amateur sleuth named Imogen Quy (rhymes with why). Quy is the school nurse at St. Agatha’s College in Cambridge. She’s a very kind person who enjoys people, cares about the students she works with, is interested in quilting, and has a very inquisitive mind. The quietly engaging plot centers around the writing of a biography of a mathematics professor who had taught at Cambridge. Someone doesn’t want the biography to be finished and published, and three biographers have already died while trying to complete the book. Quy’s young lodger is the next one to take on the task, and Quy senses danger immediately. The story gives you a peek at the academic world, but focuses mostly on relationships and interactions. It’s a fun read, and I’m glad she has a few others in the series to add to my list.
I’ve read two other books by Walsh and really enjoyed both of them. They are both targeted at children and young adults, but I recommend them for adults as well. The Green Book is a wonderful “idea” book for children. In this story, everyone must leave Earth due to a catastrophic ecological disaster. Pattie and her family, and many other people, are leaving on a space ship for another planet. Each person is allowed to bring one book with them. It’s fun to see what books were chosen, and the story complication centers around Pattie’s choice. I love to read this book to my students and then assign a writing project about having to make that kind of choice. What book would you choose?
The other book is called A Parcel of Patterns, and is about a village in England during the Bubonic Plague of 1665. The book begins with: “A parcel of patterns brought the plague to Eyam,” and is a well-written, fascinating account of the village’s experience with and response to the Black Plague. It is very factual, well-researched, and was written quite a few years before the publication of Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks, which is also about the plague in Eyam.
So I think I can safely generalize and say that anything written by Jill Paton Walsh would make an enjoyable read.