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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.

09/15   The Key Bk8  (3.5)
08/17   Pilgrim's Rest Bk10 (2.5the 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)
09/17   Eternity Ring Bk14  (2.5)  one of the key characters is a spoilt brat.  Ho-hum story
09/17   Spotlight Bk12  (2)

*** listened to in 2018
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.
02/18   Anna, Where Are You? Bk20  (3)
04/18   Miss Silver Comes to Stay Bk16  (4)
05/18   The Case Is Closed Bk2  (4
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). 
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.”
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.
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+)   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.
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 a boarder-line personality disorder, to murderous psychopath.
07/18   The Latter End Bk11 (4+) free ebook   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 bit much, in this book.   I really enjoyed the twist Wentworth gave to this who-dunnit, I didn’t see that coming at all.
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.
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”. 
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. )
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.  Pat is such a refreshing counterpart to her and I’m pleased she ended up with her young man
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.

*** listened to in 2019
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.

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

The next titles are ones I'd like to listen to before I count my current trip through Miss Silver Mysteries as done n dusted:

The Danger Point Bk4  (especially after a BaW mum read and enjoyed it.  Currently not available via audible so I may have to read it)
The Listening Eye Bk28

Of course, if a few of the other books become available via audible I may just 'have-to' listen to those too.

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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