Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wicked Uncle: Patricia Wentworth

I started reading Miss Silver mysteries again, after a long hiatus, in November 2017. This is only the third I have read, but I have noticed some similarities. Miss Silver shows up later in the books, not at the beginning, and each one featured a romance to some extent. In this one the romance was more prominent and for a while that bothered me, but I ended up liking that element too.

Summary on the back of my edition:
Gregory Porlock had brought them together... the dithering Mrs. Oakley and her rich businessman husband... nouveau riche Mr. and Mrs. Tote, still uncomfortable hobnobbing with the hoity-toity... the Mastermans, a brother and sister raised above genteel poverty by the timely death of their aunt... Leonard Carroll, actor and clever man-about-town... Moira Lane, sophisticated society beauty... Justin Leigh, her escort... and the innocent Dorinda Brown, young social secretary with an older man in her past.
A group of house party guests with apparently nothing in common ... until their host, the oh-so-charming and "wicked" Gregory Porlock is found with a knife in his back and blackmailer as his epitaph.

Dorinda Brown is the focus of the story; she is invited to the house party because she works for the Oakleys. I liked her because she did not have much money and was self-supporting, very independent and responsible.

The detectives are Frank Abbott and Chief Superintendent Lamb, who have worked with Miss Silver before. They bring Miss Silver in on the case because she helped out Dorinda when she was accused of shop lifting on a trumped up charge. They discover that what the guests have in common is being blackmailed by their host, which leaves almost everyone under suspicion.

I enjoyed the post-war setting, and I liked the way the relationships were important to the solution. I was surprised at the ending, because it seemed a bit obvious to me. But still a good read overall.

Wicked Uncle was published in England under the title Spotlight.


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Publisher: Warner Books, 1991 (first publ. 1947)
Length:    264 pages
Format:    Paperback
Series:     Miss Silver Mysteries #12
Setting:    UK 
Genre:     Mystery
Source:    I purchased my copy at the 2010 Planned Parenthood book sale.

16 comments:

  1. I haven't read any of these, so I have experience with the cast, but that seems like a pretty thin reason for the police to bring in an outsider to work on an investigation. Is that usual for these?

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    1. Within the context of the story, Rick, it makes more sense than my description does, but still, it felt that way to me too. No, it is not usual, mostly she is hired by someone because she is a licensed detective and usually gets paid for her presence, unlike Miss Marple. But because it is a Miss Silver mystery, I knew she had to show up, so it did not bother me. On the other hand, I have had the same reaction to some Miss Marple stories, but I always enjoy them anyway because I like Agatha Christie's mysteries.

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    2. I don't think I've read a Marple story I didn't like.

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    3. I agree, Rick. I have 6 more of the Miss Marple novels left to read, and I haven't read any of the short stories featuring Miss Marple. So lots to look forward to.

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  2. I confess I've always enjoyed the romance aspects of Wentworth's novels.

    Many thanks for reminding me of this one, of which I have a copy somewhere on the e-reader.

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    1. Apparently I like romances in Wentworth's novels, too, John. I used to avoid mysteries with romances, maybe I getting soft in my old age. And I like a happy ending.

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  3. I haven't read much of the Miss Silver series lately, Tracy. But you've reminded me that some really are good. I ought to reacquaint myself with them.

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    1. I have liked them better than I expected this time around, Margot, maybe because they have so many details of the life at that time.

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  4. It's ages since I read a Miss Silver book. Thanks for including the British title!

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    1. I do have to be careful not to get the same book again with a different name when I get some of the British mysteries, Katrina. I am enjoying the Miss Silver books I have read recently.

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  5. Okay, if I try one, where to start?

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    1. Of the three I have read recently enough to remember, The Clock Strikes Twelve is my favorite. Published in 1944, set in 1941, and takes place on New Year's Eve. Miss Silver doesn't come in until the half-way point.

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  6. Thanks to you, Tracy, I have read a Miss Silver mystery! In the Balance, and I just checked back and found that I liked it! And now you've whetted my appetite for another!

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    1. That's right, Mathew, and you have read a couple of books by Wentworth that did not include Miss Silver. I have only read her Miss Silver books but I have at least a couple of them on my TBR pile.

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  7. I'm glad you liked this one Tracy. I have something by Wentworth in one of the tubs, but I'm not rushing to it really.

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    1. Maybe one day, Col. You never know. But I will be trying some of her standalone mysteries, maybe they might come be more to your liking.

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