Patricia Wentworth

I know Wentworth through her Miss Silver series, and a delightful series it is.  There’s a lot I like about Wentworth’s writing.  The prose is clear and evocative.  She creates a living experience of rural England or London life in the 1950s, not just  through descriptions of the landscape but by subtle delineations of character interrelations as well.  Her characters are human:  a genuine combination of flaws and strengths, compassion and resentments, determination and indecision.  You may have some seemingly outright villains, GirlInTheCellarbut you also might see why they are that way.  On the other hand, many of her “heroes” do the wrong thing for the right reasons, the right thing by accident, or are reluctant to take on responsibility’s burden.  Miss Silver, herself, is a quiet sort, always thinking and planning and gently but decidedly pushing others to do what’s necessary or probing out the truth beneath her calm, gentle-old-lady exterior.  What I also find interesting about this series is that Miss Silver is more a catalyst than a driving or leading force.  She reasons out the guilty party’s identity or even what the crime actually was, and with the help of her connections in the police or secret service, gets that party or parties brought to justice.  However, Wentworth does not so much focus on Silver as those who bring the mystery to her:  their struggles, doubts, fears, and hopes––be it an amnesia victim who wakes up to find herself collapsed on cellar steps with a corpse beneath her or yet another amnesiac, this time courtesy of WWII, who finds the comfortable life he built for himself endangered by unknown enemies with an equally unknown vested interest in permanently erasing his memory by permanently erasing him. The mysteries that I have read by her so far are:  The Girl in the Cellar, The Case of William Smith and The Eternity Ring.

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