Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Miss Silver Mysteries by Patricia Wentworth

I've heard a couple of podcasts from the Classic Mysteries podcast about Miss Silver so I was excited to have a chance to get an ARC from the publisher.

Grey Mask
Charles has been exploring the world after a rather nasty breakup and has just now returned home. Only his caretakers aren't there. But someone else is. It's a man in a grey mask. Charles is able to watch the man unobtrusively and sees and hears what sounds like a plot for murder. And one of the people he sees is his ex-fiancee, Margaret Langton. He follows her and is soon involved in a plot involving an heiress, who may or may not be legitimate (if she's not, her horrible cousin Egbert will inherit), secret societies, and blackmail. He applies to Miss Maude Silver for help.
You might assume that Miss Silver would be similar to Miss Marple. And she is; an older woman, quiet, unassuming, unobtrusive. But she starts the series as a detective. And she is not in most of the book. Instead, the main character is Charles and he's the one our omniscient third person narrator follows around as he tries to figure out what is going on.
It was a nice book; fast, fun, and fluffy with just a touch of the overdramatic. The women in it were rather silly but a lot of that was because they were only being told parts of the story which was incredibly frustrating.

The Case is Closed
An interesting story in which a large part is given through transcripts of a court case.
The book opens with Hilary sitting on the wrong train, fuming because the sight of her ex-fiance put her there. Seeing Henry again threw her off so much that she entered the wrong carriage. Then the woman across the way starts talking and it turns out she was the housekeeper whose evidence went a long way toward putting Hilary's cousin's (Margaret) husband, Geoffrey Grey, in jail for the murder of his uncle. Hilary isn't quite sure why the woman is talking to her but it does send her to the house she lives in with her cousin to read the inquest and try to decipher what Mrs. Mercer was trying to say.
While she start this deciphering, she begins to have hope that Geoff might still be proved innocent. And when Geoffrey's cousin and Mrs. Mercer's husband start trying to make the woman seem mad, it lends credence to this hope.
Ugh. Henry is definitely a symbol of his times, overbearing and rather paternalistic toward Hilary. I was glad that she seemed to stand up to him in the beginning but was wondering how their marriage would actually turn out in the end.

Lonesome Road
Acceding to a promise made on her father's deathbed, Rachel Treherne has changed her will every year. Only this year is a little different. This year, it appears that someone is trying to kill her so Rachel has come to Maud Silver for help. Maud tells Rachel to do two things: go to the police and change her will. Rachel doesn't want to do either since it might hurt her family. Yes, even though it is someone in the family who is probably trying to kill her.
There are several suspects, her sister and brother-in-law and their children, three cousins, and her long-time companion. It will be up to Maud to untangle this tangled  web.
Like the other books in this series, the prevailing attitudes about women are frustrating and the ending is overwrought but it is a nice example of the books of the time.

Three stars
This book came out in June

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