Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Grey Mask: Patricia Wentworth

This book, published in 1928, was the first one featuring Miss Maud Silver. Although she does get involved fairly early in the book, she is not prominent in the story. The second book featuring Miss Silver did  not come out until 1937, so maybe Wentworth did not initially plan for her to be a series character. In this book she is an established private investigator, known for taking cases where women have gotten themselves into some trouble, such as the theft of valuables, and have enough money to hire Miss Silver to quietly solve the problem.


Charles Moray left England abruptly four years before, when Margaret Langdon broke off their engagement. On his return, he discovers a conspiracy that Margaret is involved in, and tries to foil the conspiracy without revealing her part in it.

When he discusses his problem with his friend Archie, he suggests Miss Silver.
‘Get a trained sleuth to do it,’ said Archie firmly. ‘That’s what they’re for. I can put you on to one if you like.’
‘A good man?’
‘A sleuthess,’ said Archie impressively. ‘A perfect wonder – has old Sherlock boiled.’
Charles frowned.
‘A woman?’
‘Well, a sleuthess. She’s not exactly what you’d call a little bit of fluff, you know’.
After a bit of convincing, Charles does decide to confide in Miss Silver.

This was a charming book. I decided to go to the first book in the series after I read The Clock Strikes Twelve, which I liked very much. I will admit that we don't get an in-depth picture of Miss Silver in this book, although I did not notice that so much because I had read books from the series when I was younger and I already knew pretty much what the character was like. She does emphasize one of her basic requirements: that her clients must trust her and tell her everything about the case, holding nothing back.

Since this was more about a conspiracy and less of a puzzle mystery, it had more suspense than the earlier story I read. People are in danger and there is romance. I should have guessed who the villain was at least midway through the book but I did not.  The story had some very interesting characters and a satisfying ending.

You can probably tell from my enthusiasm that I will be reading more books in this series. I found quite a few at the book sale in September and already had a few on the shelves so I am set for a while.

More reviews at Clothes in Books and In so many WORDS.

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Publisher: Warner Books, 1986 (first publ. 1928)
Length:    250 pages
Format:    Paperback
Series:     Miss Silver Mysteries #1
Setting:    UK 
Genre:     Mystery
Source:    I purchased my copy at the 2017 Planned Parenthood book sale.



16 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Tracy. I agree with you that there's a solid amount of suspense in it. You make an interesting point, too, that perhaps Miss Silver wasn't intended to be the main protagonist at first. I don't know for sure, but your idea makes sense. In any case, Thanks for the thoughtful review.

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    1. I have been glad to return to these books and really like them, Margot. Everyone reacts in a different way to a book, and I wasn't sure if I would like them.

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  2. Glad you enjoyed it, but I think my enjoyment of Wentworth will mostly derive from reading yours and Moira's occasional reviews.

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    1. That is fine, Col. There are a lot of books you review that I will let you experience for me. I will, however, be reading one of your recommendations soon: THE NECESSARY DEATH OF LEWIS WINTER. I have even bought the rest of the trilogy.

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    2. Oh wow. I can't wait to see how you get on with them.

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    3. Me too, Col. I am expecting to like the books.

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  3. I liked this book a lot too, Tracy. In fact I liked it so much I bought the Audible version as well. :) It's not an especially realistic story but I guess that's what I like about it. I had read many Miss Silver books before I went back and read this one and it really is very different from others in the series. Fun. Have you read POISON IN THE PEN - another good one which came later in the series.

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    1. Yvette, I have not read POISON IN THE PEN but I do have a copy and I am sure I will get to it soon.

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  4. I just now tried saying (quietly) sleuthess five times real fast, and bit my tongue. Thanks, Tracy! I'm doubting this series in in Kindle format or you'd have sold me on the book. But a tongue bite is enough for one week. ;)

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    1. Mathew, I think that they are in Kindle format, although I have not checked all of them out. This one is currently $1.99, the others I saw were more than that.

      That word was exactly why I included that section from the book. I love the idea of a sleuthess. Sorry that you bit your tongue, though.

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    2. I don't know about Kindle, but there are quite a few Wentworth books online, at fadedpage.com. I've read Miss Silver books for decades. Even though they're somewhat predictable, I enjoy having Maudie show up and save the day, like the cavalry!

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    3. Thanks, Marty, I'd not known of fadedpage.

      Tracy, the injured tongue in my imagination has healed!

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  5. Another series started Tracy! I did like this one (and thanks for the shoutout) but I think she got better as she went along, so you have lots of treats ahead. I always prefer her murder stories to the more thriller/adventure ones.

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    1. I am looking forward to reading more of them, Moira. I thought Wentworth created interesting characters in this one, the good and the bad.

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  6. I have some of her ebooks that I ought to try and read this year.

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    1. I put off reading some of her books for a while, Prashant, and now I regret it. They are quick and easy to read also. I think you would like this one.

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