Monday, August 22, 2016
Patricia Wentworth by Terrell Byrd
The Golden Age of Mystery has great authors that are less well known than Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh. I stumbled across Patricia Wentworth in an audiobook sale several years ago. What could I lose by trying The Listening Eye for less than three dollars? I was hooked by the title, a reference to a witness of a crime who was deaf (she listened by lip reading). This novel was my introduction to Miss Maud Silver.
Miss Silver is a former governess/teacher who became a private investigator. Her skills in reading people and getting them to trust her transfer well from classroom to drawing room. Although there are some formula situations in the series (a clean romance with a happy ending) there are a variety of story types. The Benevent Treasure has a strong gothic tone. The Listening Eye has bright young things – common characters in 1920's and 1930's. The Gazebo has mysterious scary people who suddenly show up offering large amounts of money for a historic property. The Case of William Smith has a man with amnesia. Ladies Bane deals with drug abuse. Each story has cozy style murders that bring the police and Miss Silver to the villages of England to save innocent lives.
My personal favorite is Miss Silver Comes to Stay. Miss Silver is visiting a small town when, I know it will be a shock to you, a man is killed! I like the characters in this work, the female lead is a mature woman who has loved and lost. I admire her manners with some of the mannerless people she has to deal with. I admire Miss Silver who makes a small cough to bring attention to herself and then delivers pithy incisive comments to police officers, silly people and scared suspects alike. At the end Miss Silver leads everyone to the correct conclusion and knits up a new outfit for great niece Josephine at the same time.
What more could a story offer to while away a long fall evening: murder, justice and custom made warm clothes. Enjoy!