It was all right. I skipped over some pages with what I found to be unnecessary details. Not sure if I’m just an impatient mystery reader or if I’m just not used to Wentworth’s style of writing. I’ve been reading tons of Agatha Christie before, so while there are elements of similarity, the narrative style and plot structure are significantly different.
The mystery in itself was somewhat interesting. I agreed with the main character Hilary when she said, “Too many alibis all over the place”. A man is shot ostensibly by his favourite nephew, the case is closed and said nephew has already served his jail sentence for a year before the action of the novel begins. I found that the details of the mystery was repeated just a tad too much, though. I get that things have to be clarified and details emphasized for the reader (also so they might have a go at picking out fishy loopholes for themselves), but I found myself skipping pages because the repetitions were getting tedious and boring.
Regarding the characters, we have Hilary, who is this nephew’s cousin-in-law, and her on-and-off-again fiance Henry Cunningham, are the main characters. Hilary and Henry’s relationship dynamics tended toward a chauvinist male and trying-to-be-spunky-but-failing female which was a common enough trope in the 1940s, but it wasn’t overly irritating to me. I particularly remember a line where Wentworth described Hilary as having flashes of thoughts about the inquest: “There was of course no logic in this, but Hilary had not a very logical mind.” Couple this with the fact that Hilary is impulsive and reckless, apparently heedless of potential dangerous situations, constantly getting herself into scrapes, and then generally requiring the assistance of her man, Henry, to get her back to safety… I guess I shouldn’t expect much more from a novel from the 40’s.
Miss Silver only appears in the middle of the book. While Christie’s detectives tend to have some point of interest or memorable quirk that engages me and gives me a pleasant pattern to look forward to in future stories, Miss Silver appears to have none of these. I don’t mean to say that Christie’s detectives are the only allowable type of detective characters, but I found nothing about Miss Silver to engage me or make me interested in reading more of her cases. The plot and action really revolves around the main characters, who certainly won’t be recurring in other novels and therefore also give me no reason for me to continue.
My review sounds unfavourable so far, but the book redeemed itself in enough moments of suspense and excitement. The plot twists were somewhat good, though few in number. Though some points about the two main characters chafed me, it wasn’t to the point where I found them outright annoying and difficult to swallow. Miss Silver was almost a non-entity besides providing an input for plot twists, so while she made little impression on me, she didn’t annoy me either. I’m not sure whether I will continue to read more Miss Silver stories, I would recommend this book for those who love mystery stories from this era.