"Miss Leigh?" said the day sister.Hearing that the unknown Jim has been taken away, Caroline resolves to track him down, just confirm that he isn't her Jim. Meanwhile, he wakes up in a small house in a small town. He has no idea who or where he is, but he has a nagging memory of a string of emeralds, shining in lamplight. Informed that he is Jim Riddell, husband of Nesta, he finds that hard to accept. And then Nesta tells him that he has stolen a string of emeralds, and she wants her share. Jim also learns that the owner of the emeralds, an American named Elmer Von Berg, has been shot, presumably during the robbery, and is at the point of death.
"Oh yes," said Caroline Leigh in that warm dark voice of hers.
Someone once said that Caroline's voice was like damask roses. He was an infatuated young man who wrote poetry. Caroline laughed at him kindly but firmly, and all her friends chaffed her about her crimson voice. All the same there was something in it.
The story alternates between Jim and Caroline, as he tries to figure out who he is and what is happening, and she tries to find out where and who he is. There is considerable tension in those sections. In between her sleuthing, Caroline goes home, to the house that she shares with her older cousin Pansy Ann. Pansy (christened plain Ann) "sketched a little, and gardened a little, and painted a little on china. She also wrote minor verse..." Perhaps Patricia Wentworth meant her to add some humor to the story, to lighten the tension from time to time, but I feel like those sections interrupted a much more interesting story, and put it rather out of balance.
This was a fun read, even without Miss Silver. I still have a few of the non-series books to read, as well as two Miss Silvers, and two others featuring her frequent collaborators Ernest Lamb and Frank Abbott of Scotland Yard. I can't imagine how those two will manage to solve any crimes without her! I'm sure I'll still have something of Patricia Wentworth's on the TBR shelves when her turn comes in Jane's reading celebration (on November 10th). But if not, I've already discovered the joys of re-reading her books.
I've just met Frank Abbott for the first time in 'Miss Silver Intervenes' and I can only imagine that Miss Silver deployed some of her old teaching skills if he has been out solving mysteries without her! I'm finding Patricia Wentworth's standalones more variable than the Miss Silver books, and sometimes a little too silly, but I have yet to read one that I haven't enjoyed.ReplyDelete
I'm finding the same thing, Jane, and I think the earlier ones can be more uneven than the later - like this one, which I still enjoyed very much.ReplyDelete
I find her books such a comfort. She was so productive -- one feels that they might never run out!ReplyDelete
I still have quite a few of the stand-alone books to find - I'm happy that they are being reprinted. And I still haven't found the first two Miss Silvers.Delete
I like the sound of Caroline. :)ReplyDelete
Patricia Wentworth wrote good strong women into most of the stories that I've read. They usually take a hand in solving the mystery - they won't just sit on the sidelines!Delete
I’d forgotten all about Wentworth and the Miss Silver novels. I know I read some decades ago but haven’t given them a thought since. Thank you for reminding me. I must go back and discover her anew.ReplyDelete
I've been rather obsessively collecting her books for the past few years. Like many of Miss Silver's clients, I find her very comforting.Delete
How have I never read this book?!? I'm going to rectify that very soon!ReplyDelete
Dean Street Press has been publishing new editions of the stand-alone books, like this one, so they are now much easier to find!Delete