Sunday, June 2, 2013

Miss Silver Deals With Death: Review

I'm slowly trying to get back into the swing of blogging.  As I mention in the note above, last week was a bit of a trial and I had no internet access at all.  Unfortunately, that means my review of this one is going to be a bit sketchy, particularly when it comes to my thoughts...I had just finished it (May 28) when I had to head to my parents' house.

Miss Silver Deals With Death (aka Miss Silver Intervenes) is one of Patricia Wentworth's early outings with the former governess turned private investigator.  The sixth in the series, this story focuses on the inmates of Vandeleur house and the murder that takes place on its once grand upper floors. The house was once a showplace of the Victorian era--home to a famous court painter.  Since then it has been divided into eight flats with secrets behind every door.

There is the woman whose circumstances have changed and who is steadily selling off her possessions just to have money to live.  There is the secretive gentleman who won't tell anyone what he does for a living.  There is the downtrodden daughter who is a virtual slave to her overbearing mother.  There is the apparent invalid and her tiny entourage.  There is the victim-to-be, Carola Roland, a member of the theatrical community who is currently taking rest and waiting for a possible future husband to divorce his current wife.  There is Mrs. Underwood who is being blackmailed and her sleepwalking maid....and then there is Mrs. Underwood's niece (by marriage, "not that I make any difference about that"), Meade Underwood.

Meade has come to stay with her aunt in order to recover from a disastrous shipwreck resulting from an enemy torpedo.  Meade not only needs to regain her strength, but she also must recover from the loss of her fiance, Giles Armitage who disappeared when the ship went down.  One evening Meade is on her way home after running errands for her aunt when she runs into Giles.  She immediately recognizes him--but he has lost memories from the months prior to the torpedo attack through to the time of his rescue.  Their courtship had been a short one, so all memory of Meade and their engagement are gone.

As Meade and Giles start to get to know one another again, the secrets in Vandeleur house start trickling out.  Carola Roland claims a prior acquaintance with Giles....a very close acquaintance....and she begins to act very sly and nasty indeed.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Underwood consults Miss Silver about the blackmail but before much can be done Carola is murdered and Giles becomes a chief suspect.  Hot on the trail of the blackmailer, Miss Silver manages to uncover all of the secrets lurking behind the closed doors of Vandeleur house....including the identity of the murderer!

Miss Silver is good comfort, cozy reading.  I'm not entirely sure how well the temporary, partial amnesia is portrayed...and that does seem to be a favorite plot device for various vintage mystery writers...but it does make for a nice little storyline.  I enjoyed the way Wentworth handled her characters and let us in on the secrets behind the flat doors.  Three stars for a comfortable read.


Jean said...

Funny! I just read this book yesterday and today. Wentworth is my comfort reading and I collect her books. I do not consider this to be one of her best, and she really did overuse the amnesia device, but I love her anyway.

Ryan said...

I have yet to read one of these books. I don't think I've even heard of the character until I saw her lampooned in Murder in Pastiche, which I read last year.