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Monday, 27 August 2018

Miss Silver Mystery Books ~ Patricia Wentworth

I'll list the books in the order that I've read them, which may help others to see how I've ended up rating each next story I've listened through.
During 2020 I'm endeavouring to go through the books in series order, and,  in 2021 to read the books that are currently not available at Audible.

09/15   The Key Bk8  (3.5)
02/20  Repeat. Late-night listen.

08/17   Pilgrim's Rest Bk10 (2.5 the perpetrator of the crimes is a psychopath … I think that aspect ruined the story for me

08/17   The Case of William Smith Bk13  (3)
04/20  (4Repeat. Late-night listen.     I really like the young couple in this story.

09/17   Eternity Ring Bk14  (2.5 one of the key characters is a spoilt brat.  Ho-hum story

09/17   Spotlight [Wicked Uncle] Bk12  (2)   I'm not sure why I gave this 2 stars the first listen through....   
04/20  (4) A really good Golden-era whodunnit set in a country house with a blackmailing villian, lots of red herrings, gentle -in the background - romance happening; and, Miss Silver comes to stay to help solve the back-to-back murders.

02/18   The Alington Inheritance Bk31  (3After 4 or 5 drop and restarts, and then not until Jenny ran away did I feel any real interest in this story.  I won't be listening to this one again, even though it eneded up at 3 stars.

02/18   Anna, Where Are You? Bk20  (3)
06/20 3+  This book is not a favourite Wentworth for me, yet I liked it a bit more than the last time I listened through it.  I’d forgotten who the baddy was, which is always a bonus on a relisten, but it helped that I knew what was going to happen with the ‘psychologically damaged’ friend, and, the children and wife of the abusive scammer.

04/18   Miss Silver Comes to Stay Bk16  (4)
05/20  (Good collection of red herrings which ensured I couldn't easily recall whodunnit from my last listen through two years ago.)

05/18   The Case Is Closed Bk2  (4
Repeat.  Late-night listens:
04/19  I found this listen through a tougher challenge - the abusive, psychotic, spouse seemed worse this time.  Time to use the skip forward button.
02/21   As I’m au fait with the storyline, and whodunnit, Hillary and Henry’s story captured my attention totally this time through and I flat out enjoyed my repeat listen through this audiobook.
Both of those characters have character faults.... temper outbursts for one, and, an autocratic know-it-all for the other.

05/18   The Silent Pool Bk24  (3Herefordshire     Extra content others may like to know about:  Wentworth gifted the murderer with a borderline personality.  Adultery (emotional and physical). 
07/20   Repeat.  Late-night listen (4)

06/18   The Fingerprint Bk30   (3.5)   Deeping, Lincolnshire    The author intentionally injects shades of Cinderella-with-a-twist into this story – the put upon orphan in this tale is not very likeable, and, has tangled herself up with a manipulative, abusive, thug.  Miss Silver saves the day, so all ends well.  I was in the frame of mind to enjoy a cosy mystery, so this scored well ;)     Content extras: there are a few kissing episodes in this book, though Wentworth doesn’t give it ‘sensual’ legs to run on – she’s rather matter of fact. 
Coleridge —
“For to be wroth with one we love
Doth work like madness on the brain.”
11/20  (4The audiobook read by Diana Bishop made for a no-effort-required escapist listen'  I dislike Mirrie, even more, this round through, and I had forgotten what a psycho manipulator Sid is.

06/18   The Watersplash Bk21   (3.5)  (Faux English Village) I can’t read these back to back as many of them are rather similar in tone, missing wills, country homes, a pretty ‘longsuffering’ girl, and, a moody young man.  Extra: drunken,  domestic violence is included in this story.
07/20  Repeat. Late-night listenstill 3.5*
Repeat listen.  Small village whodunit come complete with a range of personalities to like and dislike: one of those village dwellers is a psychopath, and the murderer ….  
I think I enjoyed this story more this listen through as I knew where the plot was going, and the portion in the book where "what the young nurse said to Edward"  - it gets repeated over and over - was easy to skip past, knowing that I hadn't missed a thing.

06/18   The Clock Strikes Twelve Bk7  (4)  (faux English village)   Extra: One of the characters in this story, a mother by adoption, could be a real a challenge for an IRL associate to read about. 
01/20 (4+)   Late-night repeat listen.  Re-read for a GR's 2020 Retro Reads Challenge.
As it's summertime and I'm in the frame of mind to enjoy lighter listening this book garnered itself a plus ...... winter time listens have to work harder for bonus points :)   
That mother by adoption sure is a piece of work and Wentworth has crafted her to be despised she is possessive, jealous, manipulative, and a class act narcissist.   That portion of the story reminds me of the surrogate mother in  Nemesis by Agatha Christie, this listen through especially,  and I could clearly see the opening for Wentworth to have the scenario of  ‘love killed her’ brought about (not going to say more and generate a spoiler in either book.)

I prefer to listen to Wentworth’s stories narrated by Diana Bishop as opposed to reading them and I think this audiobook makes for a great retro/vintage era whodunit; but, it could easily offend those who imagine that a retro read is going to reflect or uphold many of the (Western Cultures) social norms of today.  

06/18   The Benevent Treasure Bk26  (4+)   Dorset (?)  If I’d known Wentworth was going to have people skulking around the house after dark I may not have listened to this at bed time (;-D). 
Gothic-styled read. Wentworth really sets the reader up to dislike the abusive old lady - she thinks nothing of viciously slapping family/servants across the face if they cross her.  There is a clever twist at the very end of the story with the money.
10/20  (4)   Repeat. Late-night listen. 

06/18   The Chinese Shawl Bk5  (3+)   faux country village/ London  The usual range of Wentworth characters, many with major character defects, and one who goes from being someone with a boarder-line personality disorder to becoming a murderous psychopath.
09/20  (3)  Repeat. Late-night listen.

07/18   The Latter End Bk11 (4+) Wildcard “Rayle” faux English village Lincolnshire/ London  (Anthony travels to Oxfordshire)
Paintings mentioned gracing Miss Silver’s walls as prints:
and The Huguenot    (close up)
The author tends to wallow in Freudian rhetoric a wee bit much in this book.   I really enjoyed the twist Wentworth gave to this who-dunnit, I didn’t see that coming at all.
Available as a  free ebook  too.
04/20  (3)  Repeat. Late-night listen.

08/18   Miss Silver Intervenes Bk 6  (3) Gifting this with a 3 since some of the supporting stories were interesting – the mystery wasn’t that good.
09/20  (3Repeat. Late-night listen.

08/18   Poison in the Pen Bk29  (I was in the frame of mind to enjoy a Wentworth styled mystery, so I did; and,  she gave enough clues early on the books so I could work out “who’d dunnit”. 
08/20  Repeat listen, nearly two years to the date later.  Listening in series order this round through.  Thanks to lots of red herrings I could not immediately recall who'd dunnit; and, as I was just listening for enjoyment's sake, not to work out the mystery, as I was doing last time, I still really liked the mystery in 'Poison in the Pen' this time as well.
Extra detail: showcases adultery and a pending divorce. Lots of village gossiping/backstabbing in this one.

09/18   The Gazebo Bk27   (4) Grovehill, Hertfordshire/ North Yorkshire/ London 
Wentworth sets the reader up to start thinking “that’ mother deserves to be done in – manipulator to the extreme – it was teeth gritting to read about the sugar-coated abuse she heaped on her daughter.  The baddies are all bad, which includes a brassy, avaricious, man chaser,  and the murder was easy to solve.  (I would not recommend this to those that have/are living thru issues with a manipulator  or narcissist. )
08/20  (3*)  Even though the mystery in this is very good the abusive relationships this read through seemed worse (so it lost a star).  2020 feels like a hard year to read 'abuse happening' content.   I prefer to listen to Diana Bishop narrating Miss Silver mysteries, as opposed to reading them myself and tried, not very successfully to skip past 'that' content.       Extra: narcissistic mother, abusive husband (to the max), abusive wife.

10/18   Lonesome Road: Miss Silver Bk3  (4+ ) “Ledlington” wildcard
I wonder what deathbed promises Wentworth had witnessed that caused her to hit out so hard against others being forced to honour those wishes.  This book had many of the usual collection of characters Wentworth uses in her stories, but amazingly not one manipulative (living, breathing) narcissistic. Miss Silver turns up early in the story and there are no policemen or Scotland Yard ‘tecs helping to solve the mystery; just Miss Silver and a few key characters are hard at work to expose and capture the potential murderer.

11/18    The Ivory Dagger: Miss Silver Bk18  (4-) Emsworth, Hampshire 
( free ebook collection  )
This is the second book I’ve been through this year that has focused on Sir Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammimoor, I have it on my to-be- read list so I’m going to try and make a push to read it next year. 
I rather enjoyed this Miss Silver Mystery, in spite of Lila; she is the sort of piteous, weak spirited,  girl that makes me wish the author had injected some grit into her diet.  Ray is such a refreshing counterpart to her and I’m pleased she ended up with her young man
05/20 (4) Repeat. Late-night listen.

11/18   Out of the Past: Miss Silver Bk 23  (4) wildcard.  The murder victim certainly set himself up to be dun-in and it was good to see that Carmona dodged a bullet when he ditched her at the altar all those years ago.  Lots of red-herrings, but Wentworth gave me just enough clues to be able to work out who the murderer was before Miss Silver started to clue drop.
07/20   (3+I liked the story less this time than my first listen through, I guess because the murderer was as selfish, ruthless, and, manipulative underneath as Alan Field blatantly was.

01/19   The Catherine Wheel: Miss Silver Bk15  (4-)  pub 1949  Some clever red-herrings in this one; however, if you've already read a few Miss Silver mysteries you'll see through those and guess who was 'dunning them in' like I did.
I enjoyed this as my first mystery challenge read for 2019 and appreciate the way Patricia Wentworth takes the last few chapters to tuck away any loose ends.
Extra: abused wives, predatory male - no graphic details,  they are included as part of the background story.
05/20:  (4) Repeat. Late-night listen.  I still appreciate the way Patricia Wentworth takes the last few chapters to tuck away all the loose ends.

03/19  The Girl in the Cellar: Miss Silver Bk32  (3) I thought this story was a little lacking in the middle,  it felt like Wentworth was putting in filler. Added to that I found Anne and Jim were just ‘okay’ as the central couple.  Miss Silver didn’t feature as the wise case cracker, as she does in some of the other books.  This would still be a good listen for Wentworth fans, it’s just not one I’d recommend to anyone who isn’t … yet ;-)

04/19 Grey Mask: Miss Silver Bk1 (3-)  The rating is for the audiobook which Diana Bishop narrates very well.  Since I've run out of Miss Silver books to listen to I caved in and purchased the least liked book - which is also the first - in the series to listen to.  I  agree with other Wentworth appreciators,  I wouldn’t recommend* Grey Mask as the first book to read in the series either as Wentworth is definitely finding her way with Miss Silver as a character and the mystery is rather weak.  The writing feels the most choppy out of the twenty-four Miss Silver books I’ve listened to so far and the author seems to spend too long fleshing out less relevant moments in the story.  In addition, the heiress is an (annoying) silly, dippy eighteen-year old which fortunately is balanced out by a few more likeable characters.  For others that get irked by authors doing this, Wentworth does underpin this mystery with a lack of communication /broken engagement issue.
*Recommend as a first Miss Silver audiobook, in place of this one:   The Latter End Bk11,  The Benevent Treasure Bk26

07/20  The Listening Eye Bk28 (3)  (ebook)   I think I prefer having these read to me,  by Diana Bishop, as opposed to reading them myself via ebook.  The mystery was just okay and it was pretty easy to figure out early in the book who was involved in the murder.

08/20  The Danger Point Bk4  (4)  (ebook) (I wanted to read this especially after a BaW mum read and enjoyed it.  Currently not available via audible so I may have to read it. )  I enjoyed reading this vintage era whodunnit: Miss Silver didn't feature that much, which I was okay with, in this story.  Lots (!) of red herrings with the criminal being a thoroughly charming and toxic baddy.  Lisle is definitely lacking in gumption.
Extra: an extra-marital affair, catty women by the shovel load, manipulative spouse.  (London/Faux English Village/ Devonshire)

09/20  She Came Back [The Traveller Returns] Bk9  (4)  (ebook)  The wife presumed dead turns back up 3 years later; but,  is it the wife or an imposter?
I enjoyed reading this vintage era whodunnit.  I usually listen to the audiobooks narrated by Diana Bishop - easy listening but this book in the series is not available where I live in audio format.

09/20  Mr. Brading's Collection Bk17  (3)  (ebook)
Reading this was the only available and,  worked out to be, the best option for me.
I skipped over all the repeat details about Miss Silver and did not have to dwell on a few retro sayings/the authors opinions (on an adopted child) and the heavy hands of the ex.husband.    I enjoyed the vintage mystery aspect of this book, baddies n all.

09/20   Through the Wall Bk19  (3)  (ebook)  Read this one as it's currently not available on audiobook.  I enjoyed the mystery part of it - I thought it was a spanking good read.   So nice to see this one has one of Wentworth’s characters, Marian, that has some gumption her sister, however, is weak, needy, pretty shallow and has accrued a loser for a spouse.
(Some of the content is definitely yesteryear viewpoints and attitudes.)

02/21  Ladies' Bane Bk22 (3-(ebook) I know I keep saying it but it's true: I much prefer to listen to Miss Silver mysteries narrated by Diana Bishop over reading them, as the written version seems to detract from my enjoyment of them.  
Miss Silver is in this story helping gather clues to solve the crime/s, but she is not leading right front and centre in the final solving of the case.
Extra detail:  Domestic abuse.  Drug addiction.  Female predator.

Still to read:
Vanishing Point Bk25

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Polite comments are welcomed :)

The number beside each book is my personal rating for the book, or audiobook, at the time of reading with the range being:

(1) = would not recommend,

(2) = some interesting aspects but not one of my recommended reads,

(3) = would recommend.

(4) = Really good, enjoyable, (or worthy) read, would definitely recommend

(5) = Excellent book, highly recommend