29 May 2020


  • this edition published by Harper Collins 2014
  • written but not published in 1954
  • see DEAD MAN'S FOLLY (1956)
  • ISBN 978-0-00-754639-8
  • source: my local library
  • 160 pages
Synopsis (publisher)

As a favour to an old friend, Hercule Poirot finds himself at a summer fete in Devon, taking part not in a Treasure Hunt, but a Murder Hunt, in this never-before-published novella version of Dead Man's Folly. Now released for the first time in print in this illustrated collector's edition.

Sir George and Lady Stubbs, the hosts of a village fĂȘte, hit upon the novel idea of staging a mock murder mystery. In good faith, Ariadne Oliver, the well known crime writer, agrees to organise their murder hunt. But at the last minute Ariadne calls her friend Hercule Poirot for his expert assistance. Instinctively, she senses that something sinister is about to happen…

In 1954, Agatha Christie wrote this novella with the intention of donating the proceeds to a fund set up to buy stained glass windows for her local church at Churston Ferrers, and she filled the story with references to local places, including her own home of Greenway. But having completed it, she decided instead to expand the story into a full-length novel, Dead Man's Folly, which was published two years later, and donated a Miss Marple story (Greenshaw's Folly) to the church fund instead.

Unseen for sixty years, Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly is finally published in this collector's hardback edition. The book includes a jacket painting, illustrations and exclusive introduction by Tom Adams, Agatha Christie's most famous cover artist, who is back illustrating Agatha Christie for the first time in more than 30 years.

My take

This edition was made all the more fascinating by the foreword from Tom Adams who illustrated the covers of so many Agatha Christie novels, a preface by her grandson Matthew Prichard, and an afterword by Christie apologist John Curran. These extras allow the reader to have an insight into the creation of this novella.

At the village fete Lady Hattie Stubbs, the hostess, disappears when she should have been doing something official. At the same time Ariadne Oliver's worst fears are realised when the victim of her mock murder mystery at the fete is found strangled. Later the gardener's father, who'd dropped a few cryptic lines into Hercule Poirot's ear, also dies. Lady Stubbs is never found and it is finally Hercule Poirot who works out what has happened to her, and just who Sir George Stubbs is.

This is longer than a short story, and about half the size of a full length novel.

My rating: 4.4

27 May 2020

Review: LYCKE, Mikaela Bley

  • this edition published by Scribe 2017
  • translated by Paul Norlen from Norwegian
  • ISBN 978-1-925322-06-4
  • source: review book from publisher
  • 336 pages
Synopsis (publisher)

Death, death, death,’ she whispered to herself. But it was already too late. The panic was growing inside her.

On a cold and stormy Friday in May, a young girl disappears without a trace from outside Stockholm’s Royal Tennis Hall.

The missing girl is Lycke, and assigned to report on her story is TV4’s hot-headed crime reporter Ellen Tamm. As the police begin their search, Ellen starts her own investigation, delving into Lycke’s life: her family, the nanny, the kids who taunted her at school.

As Ellen is drawn deeper into a tangle of secrets, lies, and betrayals — and frustrated by the odd behaviour of Lycke’s family, as well as corrupt police, her upstart new boss, and the disturbing threats being made against her — she becomes more and more possessed by the task she has been given, tortured by the echoes of her own past, of the darkness that haunts her.

Will she find Lycke before it is too late for either of them?

Mikaela Bley’s debut, Lycke, is the haunting first novel in the Ellen Tamm thriller series, and is an exciting new voice in Swedish crime writing.

My Take

Ellen's mother thinks she should never have taken on this assignment. It will remind her too much of the tragedy in her own life when she was the same age as the missing child.  Ellen is the crime reporter for a TV station and a missing child is not really a crime story - not, that is, until a body is found or an abduction suspected.

For Ellen though finding the child becomes personal. She feels that the police are not taking the situation seriously enough. She has her own paid source within the police but even he at times gets it wrong. Ellen works extraordinary hours, trying to come up with new angles to follow up.

As Ellen interviews the mother, the father, the stepmother and the nanny, she gets uncomfortable vibes. This is not a child who experienced a lot of love. But she is only 8 years old, from a middle class family, and already she has been the object of a custody battle.

As the investigation continues Ellen herself becomes to object of hate email, and a vendetta by viewers commenting on her presentations. Her own past is thrown in her face.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
Sweden’s new Queen of Crime. Mikaela Bley is a new star among the Swedish crime stars, and with her debut, Lycke, she sweeps the floor with many of them.’
Mikaela Bley was born in 1979 and lives in Stockholm with her husband and two children.

25 May 2020

Review: WHAT LIES BETWEEN US, John Marrs

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2528 KB
  • Print Length: 371 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1542017025
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (May 15, 2020)
  • Publication Date: May 15, 2020
  • Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
  • Language: English
Synopsis (Amazon)

Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.

My Take

This was a well deserved Amazon Best Book of the Month: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense.
There is plenty of mystery and hints at some dreadful events.

Maggie is the mother. She has access to the top room in the house and the bathroom and dining room below. Nina has rooms on the first floor, the kitchen and the basement.  It is the house that Nina has lived in all her life and she remembers fondly when her father was with them, before he left.

The construction is clever: chapters separately narrated by Maggie and Nina, at the present time and about 25 years ago. The first puzzle though is who is the narrator in the prologue? I have just read it again, and I think I know.

When Nina was at school Maggie worked at a local clinic as a midwifery nurse. Now she is retired and Nina works at the local library. Maggie is invisible to the world. No-one knows that she lives in the house because Nina has told them she has dementia and is living with her sister in the country.

Like the other books I have read by this author, a very good and highly recommended read.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
4.6, THE ONE

21 May 2020

Review: DEATH IN OSLO, Anne Holt

  • this edition published by Corvus 2016
  • Originally published in Norwegian in 2006
  • translated by Kari Dickson
  • setting Oslo January 2005
  • ISBN 978-1-7823909-5-4
  • #3 in the Vik & Stubo series 
Synopsis (publisher)

The gripping third instalment in Anne Holt's Vik/Stubo series. When the first female US president is kidnapped on a state visit to Norway, Johanne Vik and Adam Stubo must race against time to prevent a national security crisis.
Can the US president really just disappear into thin air...?

Helen Barclay, the first female of the United States, has been kidnapped on a state visit to Norway: it is up to the FBI and the Norwegian police to work together to find her. But their enemy is far more powerful than they could ever imagine.

The President's abduction represents the biggest threat to homeland security since 9/11. However, as Johanne Vik assists on the investigation she learns that the private life of President Barclay is also under attack. There are those who would stop at nothing to destroy the leader of the free world. And in a twist of fate, secrets from Johanne's own past are at risk of being revealed, jeopardising all she has worked for and endangering the lives of those she loves most...

My take

There are a few editing and plotting slips in this novel, not the least that between the covers the US President is Helen Bentley (not Barclay as stated on the dustjacket).

I had already "met" Joahnne Vik and Adam Stubo in a previous title in the series, and also Hanne Wilhelmson who becomes important in the second half of the novel in 1222.

The plot is an interesting one- the disappearance/kidnapping of the American President while on her first overseas state visit. Norway had been chosen because it was "friendly" and relatively small, but the President had chosen to come on Norway's National Day. In retrospect the visit was low key and the President was not accompanied by the huge entourage that had been expected. When she disappeared overnight from her hotel, the investigation becomes a struggle for power and control by the Oslo police, the FBI and the CIA.  Sightings of the President are at first numerous and then she disappears completely.

Despite some plot threads that for me were not sufficiently resolved, an engrossing read.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.8, 1222 - #8 in Hanne Wilhelmson series
4.5, THE FINAL MURDER- #2 in the Vik & Stubo series
4.5, A GRAVE FOR TWO -#1 in the Selma Falck series 

19 May 2020

review: MEMORY MAN, David Baldacci

  • originally published by Grand Central Publishing 2015
  • available through by local library as an e-book in Libby
  • 550 pages
  • #1 in the Amos Decker series
Synopsis (library)

Amos Decker would forever remember all three of their violent deaths in the most paralyzing shade of blue. It would cut into him at unpredictable moments, like a gutting knife made of colored light. He would never be free from it. When Amos Decker returned home eighteen months ago to find the bodies of his wife and only daughter, he didn't think he could carry on living. Overwhelmed with grief, he saw his life spiral out of control, losing his job as a detective, his house and his self-respect.

But when his former partner in the police, Mary Lancaster, visits to tell him that someone has confessed to the murder of his family, he knows he owes it to his wife and child to seek justice for them. As Decker comes to terms with the news, tragedy strikes at the local school. Thirteen teenagers are gunned down, and the killer is at large.

Following the serious brain injury Amos suffered as a professional footballer, he gained a remarkable gift - and the police believe that this unusual skill will assist in the hunt for the killer. Amos must endure the memories he would rather forget, and when new evidence links the murders, he is left with only one option...

My take

In the 18 months since his brother in law, wife, and daughter were murdered Amos Decker has let himself go. He was a detective in the police at the time, but eventually they had to let him go.

This novel begins with someone confessing to his family's murder, and his former detective partner from Burlington C.I.D contacting him with the news. Later this person retracts his confession, but by then Amos has been seconded as a consultant when a gunman has killed 13 people at the local high school. For Amos Decker is a man with special qualities: he is a detective who get results. He asks the questions who asks the questions no-one else seems to think of asking.

The turning point comes when the police discover that the gun used in the high school massacre is the gun that was used to shoot his wife eighteen months earlier. Amos realises that the shooting at the school is somehow about him.

An engrossing read, despite the fact that it is a very long book.Well plotted and believable, well almost.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
4.4, THE FIX - Amos Decker #3 

17 May 2020

review: THE APARTMENT, K. L. Slater

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 3750 KB
  • Print Length: 266 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1542023912
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (April 28, 2020)
  • Publication Date: April 28, 2020
  • Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B082HRWHG8
Synopsis  (Amazon)

It’s an opportunity she can’t refuse. The woman before her tried…

Freya Miller needs a miracle. In the fallout of her husband’s betrayal, she’s about to lose her family home, and with it the security she craves for her five-year-old daughter, Skye. Adrift and alone, she’s on the verge of despair until a chance meeting with the charismatic Dr Marsden changes everything. He’s seeking a new tenant for a shockingly affordable flat in a fashionable area of London.

Adder House sounds too good to be true… But Freya really can’t afford to be cynical, and Dr Marsden is adamant she and Skye will be a perfect fit with the other residents.

But Adder House has secrets. Even behind a locked front door, Freya feels as if she’s being watched: objects moving, unfamiliar smells, the blinking light of a concealed camera… and it’s not long before she begins to suspect that her dream home is hiding a nightmarish reality. Was it really chance that led her here—or something unthinkably dark?

As the truth about Adder House starts to unravel, can Freya and Skye get out—or will they be locked in forever?

My take

Freya Miller, in desperate need of somewhere to live, meets Dr Michael Marsden in a coffee shop when he is ostensibly there to pin up a notice about an apartment he has on offer. As we quickly find out, although she is not aware of it, he is there to meet Freya and make her an offer she can't refuse.

Taking the apartment means a change of schools for Skye, which the little girl is not happy with, but there seem to be so many advantages. Dr Marsden and his wife are overwhelming with their generosity, and they quickly make friends with a couple of other residents. But from the beginning there are things that make Freya uncomfortable. A times she wonders if she is losing her mind, and then she learns of Sofia, the person who lived in the apartment before her.

There are some truly creepy parts of the story: noises at night, furniture in Skye's room being moved around, someone taking photos of Skye over the school fence. But it just falls short of hitting the spot. About two thirds of the way through, I picked who the person not to be trusted was, but not the reason why. Nor had I figured out the reason behind the occasionally inserted journal entries by Beatrice.

However the book remained very readable to the end.

When I read the blurb for this book, I was struck by the idea that it might resemble a book I read last year: LOCK EVERY DOOR by Riley Sager. But really there was no real similarity in the plot.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
K. L. Slater is the million-copy bestselling author of nine standalone psychological crime thrillers. Kim is a full-time writer. She lives with her husband in Nottingham.

16 May 2020

review: THE REMORSEFUL DAY, Colin Dexter - audio book

  • format: audio book from Audible
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Series: Inspector Morse Mysteries, Book 13
  • Originally published 1999
  • Length: 10 hrs and 5 mins
    Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 12-14-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio
Synopsis (Audible)

'Where does this all leave us, sir?'

'Things are moving fast.'

'We're getting near the end, you mean?'

'We were always near the end.'

The murder of Yvonne Harrison had left Thames Valley CID baffled. A year after the dreadful crime they are still no nearer to making an arrest. But one man has yet to tackle the case - and it is just the sort of puzzle at which Chief Inspector Morse excels.

So why is he adamant that he will not lead the re-investigation, despite the entreaties of Chief Superintendent Strange and dark hints of some new evidence? And why, if he refuses to take on the case officially, does he seem to be carrying out his own private enquiries?

For Sergeant Lewis this is yet another example of the unsettling behaviour his chief has been displaying of late....

My Take

This is the last of the Morse series and again another excellent novel, and another excellent narration by Samuel West.

Morse met Yvonne Harrison when he was in hospital last and he fell for her, and she for him.
Her murder comes when he is involved in another case and he initially won't take on the case and is fully aware of a conflict of interest. But he continues to take an interest in it, and when a second murder happens he agrees to become involved.

Lewis finds Morse's attitude hard to fathom and he worries about how involved Morse actually was with Yvonne Harrison, particularly after he discovers part of a letter that Morse sent to her.

This was also virtually the last of Colin Dexter's novels although he remained involved in the television series Lewis and Endeavour. Like the earlier novels in the series, it gave Dexter the chance to display his erudite knowledge and literary skills. These are not just police procedurals but display complicated interweaving of plot threads and character development.

Colin Dexter died in 2017. He won many awards for his novels and in 1997 was presented with a well deserved CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for outstanding services to crime literature. I think he raised crime fiction writing to a real literary level.

My rating: 4.9

I've also read
4.3, INSPECTOR MORSE: BBB Radio Collection


  • this edition published by Echo Publishing 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-76068-582-9
  • 295 pages
  • source: review book from publisher
Synopsis (Allen & Unwin)

A city detective hunts a killer through a fog of lies in small town Tasmania.
Twisted Secrets. Hidden Victims. Monstrous Crimes.

In the rural Tasmanian town of Dunton, the body of a former headmistress of a children's home is discovered, revealing a tortured life and death.

Detective Jake Hunter, newly arrived, searches for her killer among past residents of the home. He unearths pain, secrets and broken adults. Pushing aside memories of his own treacherous past, Jake focuses all his energy on the investigation. Why are some of the children untraceable? What caused such damage among the survivors?

The identity of her murderer seems hidden from Jake by Dunton's fog of prejudice and lies, until he is forced to confront not only the town's history but his own nature...

My Take

Detective Jake Hunter has the dual disadvantages of being a city boy, and of being from the mainland. He senses, as he begins the investigation into the murder of Ava O'Brien, that the local residents of Dunton have a lot they could tell him, but they are not going to.

The story begins with the disappearance of a 10 year old boy from a local camping ground. When he  is found he tells Jake Hunter that he saw a monster. This is Jake's first case in Dunton and not at all what he was expecting. He is saddled with a local counsellor representing victims of crime, who just happens to be the daughter of his new station head, Aiden Kelly.

When he eventually comes across the body of Ava O'Brien in a derelict orchard, he finds that she has horrific injuries including genital mutilation. He learns that she was in charge of the local home for "bad girls" and that there are at least two girls who used to live there who have been adopted by locals.

Eventually Jake solves the crime, but the story is grisly, almost unbelievable, of corruption and exploitation all centred on the girls home that Ava O'Brien ran.

This novel represents a change of direction for Australian author L.J.M. Owen, and presumably the start of a new series. Jake Hunter has come to Tasmania to make a new start, to leave behind in Melbourne a life that just became too complicated. He was looking forward to a new, quiet, role as a country copper, but that isn't what he got.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read

About the author
Dr L.J.M. Owen has degrees in archaeology, forensic science and librarianship. She speaks five languages and has travelled extensively through Europe and Asia. L.J. was inspired to write the Dr Pimms series by the neglected women's stories she discovered between the cracks of popular archaeology. Three books in this series have been published by Echo Publishing. L.J.'s new novel, The Great Divide, introduces a new story world and characters. L.J. is also the Festival Director of the Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival, a celebration of literature and literacy in southern Tasmania, and divides her time between Canberra and southern Tasmania.

11 May 2020

Review: LONESOME ROAD, Patricia Wentworth

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 466 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; New Ed edition (December 13, 2007)
  • originally published 1939
  • Publication Date: December 13, 2007
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • #3 Miss Silver series
Synopsis (Amazon)

There were times when Rachel Treherne fervently wished that her beloved father had left his fortune to somebody else, so overburdened did she feel with the administration of her estate. And never more so than now for, although she was surrounded by relatives who depended on her, whom she loved and who must surely love her, there was no doubt in her mind that somebody was trying to kill her. Threatening letters could be ignored, odd tasting chocolates can be rejected, but when snakes are left in her bed, Rachel is convinced that someone means her terrible harm. Her only chance of a future life lay with Miss Silver, and Miss Silver was well on the way to unmasking the murderer when they struck again.

A terrified young woman asks Miss Silver for help unmasking someone who has threatened her life. Rachel Traherne has been receiving menacing letters about her deceased father’s fortune. The first two letters were vague; the third said simply, “Get ready to die".

My Take

This was the third in the Miss Silver mysteries, published just 2 years after THE CASE IS CLOSED.
Rachel Treherne has been given Miss Silver's contact details by Hilary Carew who was at the centre of that case.

Miss Silver agrees to visit Rachel at home and to see the situation for herself. They bring the date of Miss Silver's visit forward by a day when snakes are left in Rachel's bed. And, in case there was any doubt her life was under threat, someone attempts to kill her on the very night Miss Silver arrives.

Miss Silver ends up being no mere observer in this case, often taking a very active role in the investigation. Rachel has a number of people very heavily dependent on her, some harbouring a grievance that they did not do better under her father's will, and some resenting that Rachel has been left in charge of so much wealth.

A very readable story, that keeps the reader going with the desire to understand what is actually happening.

For those looking for a comparison between Miss Silver and Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: the similarities end with the grey hair and the knitting in the lap. Miss Silver is a much more organised and systematic detective, free with her advice, and willing to take active steps to follow the investigation through. Miss Marple is more an observer after events have occurred, always comparing her observations with her memories of village life. While Miss Marple often predicts outcomes, she rarely takes active interventive steps (although I am sure you can think of exceptions here)

My rating: 4.5

I have also read

8 May 2020

Review: PAINTING IN THE SHADOWS, Katherine Kovacic

  • this edition published by Echo publishing 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-76068-577-5
  • 278 pages
  • #2 in the Alex Clayton series
Synopsis (publisher)

Art dealer Alex Clayton and conservator John Porter are thrilled to be previewing the Melbourne International Museum of Art’s (MIMA) newest exhibition, until they witness a museum worker collapse and badly damage a reportedly cursed painting.

Belief in the curse is strengthened when MIMA’s senior conservator Meredith Buchanan dies less than twenty-four hours later while repairing the work. But Alex and John are convinced there is a decidedly human element at work in the museum.

The evidence sets them on the trail of a mysterious painting that could hold a key to Meredith’s death, and the stakes are raised higher when Alex is offered her dream job at MIMA. Damaging the museum’s reputation will jeopardise her professional future. The friends soon realise they are facing an adversary far more ruthless than they had anticipated, and there is much more at risk than Alex’s career.

My Take

This is the third novel by the author that I have read in recent weeks, and I'm hooked.

Once again we have a mixture of fact and fiction: the MIMA is a fictional setting, but the paintings that are part of the exhibition are not.

The author has hit on a winning combination in the form of the sleuthing pair art dealer Alex Clayton and conservator John Porter. They are onsite when a museum worker collapses onto one of the paintings to be featured in the coming exhibition. The painting is damaged and John is asked to be a consultant in its repair. However by next morning the MIMA conservator who is undertaking the repair is dead, supposedly a suicide. Alex picks up clue from the floor, one which the police have discounted, and she and John track down the killer from that point.

A well written and engaging story, with just enough detail about Alex and John and their relationship.
My rating: 4.6

I've also read

5 May 2020

Review: THE CASE IS CLOSED, Patricia Wentworth

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 583 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; New Ed edition (September 12, 2005)
  • Publication Date: September 12, 2005
  • originally published in 1937
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0043VDC20
  • #2 of the Miss Silver mysteries
Synopsis (Amazon)

The Everton murder case has long been closed. The culprit has been charged with the murder of his uncle and has served a year of his sentence already. Or has he?

The evidence against Geoffrey Grey is convincing but his wife believes in his innocence. And so does her young cousin, Hilary, who decides to solve the mystery herself.

But when Hilary herself is nearly murdered she turns in desperation to her ex-fiance for help. He calls upon the services of Miss Silver to help solve another mystery, which she does in her own original style..

My take

The first Miss Silver mystery GREY MASK was published 1928. It was nearly 9 years until the second in the series appeared. In the meantime Patricia Wentworth had published 4 novels with an elderly male sleuth Benbow Smith as well as a large number of stand-alone novels. Wentworth born in 1878, was about 50 by the time Miss Silver made her first appearance and she had been publishing novels since 1910.

Miss Silver takes a while to appear in THE CASE IS CLOSED (she is consulted about one third into the story), and she comes in as the result of a recommendation by Charles Moray who was her client in GREY MASK.

Hilary Carew, Marion Grey's cousin, is a rather quirky character in her own right, but she is central to the story as she refuses to believe that Geoffrey Grey is guilty of murder. She is impulsive, wont to act rashly, without back up, but she can't understand what it can be that Marion Grey is not telling her.

This was a good read, more assured writing than in GREY MASK.

I bought a Kindle edition which contains the first 3 Miss Silver titles - so I have LONESOME ROAD (#3) to go

My rating: 4.4

I've also read


3 May 2020

Review: ELLY, Maike Wetzel

  • this edition published by Scribe 2020
  • ISBN 978-1-925849-16-5
  • 131 pages
  • translated from German by Lyn Marven
  • source: review copy supplied by publisher
Synopsis (publisher)

A missing child is a nightmare for any family. But what happens when they come back?

Eleven-year-old Elly is missing. After an extensive police search she is presumed dead, and her family must learn to live with a gaping hole in their lives. Then, four years later, she reappears. But soon her parents and sister are plagued by doubts. Is this stranger really the same little girl who went missing? And if not, who is she?

Elly is a gripping tale of grief, longing, and doubt, which takes every parent’s greatest fear and lets it play out to an emotionally powerful, memorable climax. It is a literary novel with all the best qualities of a thriller.

My Take

Let me point out first of all that I don't think this is crime fiction, although it certainly presents a mystery, and most probably a crime was committed.

Part of the mystery is trying to work out who is the narrator as the chapters swap from one to another narrator, with only references to other people as the clue. It is almost like a jigsaw puzzle.

Elly disappears one hot June afternoon on her way to the local sports hall. Her sports bag falls off her bike in the middle of an intersection. She drops her bike at the side of the road and goes back to collect her bag. No one seems to know what happened after that. The caretaker at the sports hall says she never turned up there.

Elly turns up 4 years later. Her parents get a phone call and they rush to collect her. Her mother is convinced of her identity but her father and older sister are not convinced. Nor finally is a therapist who says there are distinct physical differences between this girl and the one who disappeared four years earlier.

The narratives explore how each person has felt about Elly's disappearance as well as how they feel about her re-appearance. If she is not the person who disappeared four years earlier, then neither are they. We learn the sad truth from Elly herself.

My rating: 4.3

About the author

Maike Wetzel was born in 1974 and works as a writer and screenwriter in Berlin. She studied at the Munich Film School and in the UK. The manuscript of her first novel, Elly, won the Robert Gernhardt Prize and the Martha Saalfeld Prize. Maike’s short stories have been translated into numerous languages and received multiple awards. Her collection Long Days was published by Comma Press in 2008, translated by Lyn Marven.

1 May 2020

Review: GREY MASK, Patricia Wentworth

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 5117 KB
  • Print Length: 876 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller (June 28, 2016)
    Publication Date: June 28, 2016
  • Originally published 1928
  • Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01GUO7CK0
Synopsis  (Amazon)

Grey Mask is the start of this series, written by Wentworth in 1928. Charles Moray leaves home after being jilted by Margaret Langton on the eve of their wedding and returns four years later to find his home open and a strange meeting taking place. Watching through a childhood hideout, he sees a man in a grey mask talking to several different people - calling each by a number. When Charles hears them discussing "removing" a girl if a "certificate" is found, he is shocked. He is even more shocked when he recognizes one of the agents - his former fiancee.

When he reads about Margot Standing, whose millionaire father dies leaving her inheritance in the balance because of a missing marriage certificate, he puts two and two together and approaches Miss Silver, a private investigator with a high success rate in missing jewelry. He is skeptical until Miss Silver astutely guesses he will not go to the police because of his former love.

My take

The first of 32 Miss Silver mysteries published 1928-1961.
It would be 9 years before a second title was published, as Wentworth experimented with other sleuths.

Readers in 1928 would have compared Miss Silver with that "other" elderly female detective Miss Marple who made her first appearance in 1927 (in a short story). Since beginning writing in 1920 Agatha Christie had dabbled in male sleuths, and in 1927 published THE BIG FOUR, which seems to me to have similar themes to GREY MASK.

For me this was a re-read. See also audio book review. 
Most of my conclusions in that review still hold. I think the style of the novel shows signs that it is nearly 100 years since it was published. I think Margot Standing is a most exasperating character, a chatterbox who would drive all of those around her mad. However I think the novel also shows a complexity of plot strands that Agatha Christie managed to avoid.

Readers' expectations of crime fiction novels have changed since this novel was published. But Miss Silver is surprisingly modern. She does a lot of investigation (in contrast to Miss Marple who relied on her experience) and is surprisingly organised with notebooks for each case that she undertakes.

I bought a Kindle edition which contains the first 3 Miss Silver titles - and I don't think I have read the other 2 before.

My rating: 4.1


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