Friday, 26 February 1999

Jill Paton Walsh: The Wyndham Case (1994)

Edition: Coronet, 1994The Wyndham Case cover
Review number: 218

The fictional St Agatha's College, Cambridge, has two libraries, a normal academic library and the Wyndham Library. This was endowed in the seventeenth century by an eccentric opponent of Newton's scientific ideas, and was stocked with books arguing against him. Not only that, but money was left to provide for the examination of the library stock once a century by someone unknown to the curator, to ensure that the contents would never change. Thus the Wyndham Library contains a large number of dull, outdated, but relatively rare and valuable books, mainly kept in a specially built two-storey tall bookcase, the "Wyndham Case".

Problems begin when a student is discovered lying dead in the locked library, surrounded by a pool of blood. Imogen Quy, the college nurse, quickly becomes involved, and begins to investigate on her own account.

The Wyndham Case is an interesting and well constructed detective novel. It's only jarring note is the rather suspicious attitude the students have towards the police - I don't think that even in these days of the Guildford Four and the Steven Lawrence case it's an attitude that many ex-public school students would share.

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