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Debts of Dishonor: An Imogen Quy Mystery Hardcover – April 4, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set at St. Agatha's, a fictional Cambridge University college, Paton Walsh's bland academic cozy will appeal most to readers enamored of the culture of British higher education and conversant in its vocabulary. Others may find that the task of navigating unfamiliar surroundings presents too little payoff. Like many amateur sleuths before her, college nurse Imogen Quy strides blithely into dangerous situations, in this case attempting to learn whether Sir Julius Farran, a wealthy businessman and college benefactor, fell to his death accidentally or was pushed. Her investigation, fueled by information her students tell her in confidence, proceeds through multilayered adulteries and financial shenanigans that rival Enron and put the college at risk of bankruptcy. Like the two earlier Imogen Quy mysteries (The Wyndham Case and A Piece of Justice), this story is entirely plot driven and, except for one genuine surprise, that plot is largely unengaging. Paton Walsh, a prolific author of children's books, is best known in the mystery field for her posthumous collaborations with Dorothy Sayers. (Apr.)
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"Just when I was sure that it was time to ring the death knell for literate mysteries, along comes Jill Paton Walsh." -Mystery News

"Gracefully written, inventive and intriguing. A must for lovers of the British academic traditional." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on A Piece of Justice

"A mystery as intricate and finely constructed as one of the handsewn quilts so central to the story." -Publishers Weekly (starred review) on A Piece of Justice

"It is in every way superb." -Chicago Sun-Times on The Wyndham Case

"A leisurely, literate style, an intriguing clutch of academic eccentrics, a clever puzzle, and a sharply intelligent sleuth whose gentleness sets her apart from the hard-edged aggressions of her fictional contemporaries--all in a refreshing debut in the Sayers tradition." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on The Wyndham Case


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First American Edition edition (April 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031235536X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312355364
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #328,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Georganna L. Williamson on July 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Great writer! Wonderful and intelligent characters. Although, considered a 'cozy' mystery, this has lots of meat, wit and intelligence.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I very much like her books. The characters, setting and plot are all interesting, but the books are way too long. The plot moves very slowly. It takes about 1/3 of the book to get things moving along. I read this after reading her first Imogen Quy book, and liked that one more.
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Format: Hardcover
On the plus side, Debts of Dishonor is well-researched; incorporating the stock market, high finance, outsourcing and the financial pickle a lot of institutions find themselves in these days. It's excellently crafted, with subtle clues and red herrings planted along the way for the reader to remember once the solution is revealed.

On the minus side, it's peculiarly passionless. Imogen Quy shows up everywhere, somehow inspiring highly personal confidences from everyone she meets and included in top level pow-wows, but the reader is left asking, "Why?" Kind and generous with her time she may be, but CEOs of multi-national companies asking for her advice strains credibility a bit. Imogen's willingness to befriend the new lover(s) of a former flame, not to mention being available at all hours of the day and night to rush to the former flame's assistance further takes this from realistic to just plain "Huh?" territory.

Jill Paton Walsh's ability to craft a plot is superb; creating appealing characters, not so much. The plot drives the novel, and if the characters had lived up to the story, this would have been a good one indeed.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best-written mysteries of the year, of, perhaps, several years. The narration and the dialogue are both exquisitely crafted, a real pleasure to read. Jill Paton Walsh's earlier novel, A Piece of Justice, is a very clever book and both of Walsh's Wimsy/Vane novels are good, so I leapt to read this one with high hopes.

It's boring.

Sadly, the main character is more than (less than?) boring: she's annoyingly boring. In A Piece of Justice, Imogen's profession (college nurse) fits in with the theme of women being undervalued by venerable institutions. The brilliant blend of quilts and higher mathematics makes the point about women's intellects and women's skills being funneled away from the paths of glory and into nurturing activities such as nursing and sewing. We are told that Imogen started to be a doctor, but, because of family emergencies, had to settle for being a nurse. OK, that works in the earlier book, along with the professor who specializes in 19th -century dress fabric imports and the women who first attended Cambridge but couldn't get degrees. Here, however, in a novel without a discernable theme, Imogen's fall-back career seems remarkably like laziness. We are given to understand that she's youngish - thirties? - and attractive and healthy and financially stable: why doesn't she just go to med school? Walsh's attempt to give us a modern-day Miss Marple overlooks the changes in the world - even in the world of Cambridge. No one would think twice about a woman going to med school now, even in her fifties, let alone her thirties. Imogen's sad little apostrophes to a lost career sound more like excuses than regrets.

As a character, Imogen invites admiration but generates pity, if not contempt.
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