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Latter End by Patricia Wentworth (thoughts)

November 27, 2013

Latter End by Patricia Wentworth
I first heard about Patricia Wentworth and her Miss Silver mystery series from Jenn. As I love traditional mysteries and am always looking for new series to try, I decided to request Latter End pretty much at random from my library’s catalogue.

Miss Silver is an amateur sleuth, as well as being a spinster and retired governness. She first appeared in 1928, and Wentworth continued writing novels featuring her until 1961! My library only has five of series, and since Latter End was written in 1947, it falls in the middle of Wentworth’s writing career. It is definitely a classic mystery: a murder occurs in an old family house, there’s a limited pool of suspects, all of whom have motives, and Miss Silver uses deduction and her fine attention to detail to solve the crime. She also knits throughout, which I enjoyed: I suspect Wentworth herself was a knitter because the knitting is somehow more solid and practical than Miss Marple’s, if that makes sense.

Anyway, I loved spending time with Miss Silver and the puzzle that Wentworth constructed. It took me a bit longer than usual to figure it out, which is always fun! Wentworth’s prose is more serviceable and straightforward than flowery, but that’s fine for mysteries. I will say that gender roles in the book frustrated me a bit: even the apparently strong-willed and independent young woman going to pieces and needing a manly shoulder to cry on. On the other hand I imagine the psychological burden of having a murder committed in your house, being considered a suspect yourself, and knowing it must be one of your family that is the killer would be quite harrowing. Wentworth doesn’t focus on psychology a la P.D. James, but her acknowledgment of it does humanise her characters.

All in all, I will be reading more Miss Silvers in the future. I’ve always wished Christie wrote more Miss Marples, so I’m thrilled to have learned about Wentworth! The prospect of a whole new series of comfort reads is quite satisfying indeed.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2013 9:11 am

    Yea! I was so excited (and surprised) to see a Wentworth cover in my feed. I adore these books, but you will definitely find some pretty rigid gender roles. The stories still charm me so much, though. I’m not sure what type of ereader you have, but if it’s a Nook, I’ll gladly share the ones I’ve bought with you…I may have gone crazy last year when Open Road had a Wentworth sale the day after Thanksgiving. :)

    • November 27, 2013 6:26 pm

      You’re so sweet Jenn! I do have a Nook, and I’ll gladly take you up on that offer one of these days! Thnx for the rec, it’s always exciting to find a new-to-me author with a great big backlog.

  2. debbierodgers permalink
    November 27, 2013 11:01 am

    A friend recommended Wentworth to me a few years ago. I’ve read about half a dozen. Although the first in the series appeared before Miss Marple debuted, Miss Silver did not develop the older lady and knitting persona at first, so she may have been patterned after Miss M. Then again, maybe she just grew into her character. Either way, I do enjoy reading them Thanks for the reminder to get back to the series.

    • November 27, 2013 6:26 pm

      Interesting Debbie! Thnx for the backstory.

  3. November 27, 2013 11:56 am

    I love Wentworth mysteries. I don’t know why, but like Jenn, they just charm me!

    • November 27, 2013 6:26 pm

      I agree, they’re very charming. :)

  4. November 27, 2013 1:52 pm

    I read them all when I was a teenager and return to them from time to time as wonderful comfort reads. Do put aside contemporary gender roles if you can, though, please? The world was very different back in 1947, and you’ll enjoy them more if you accept they are almost historical pieces now.

    • November 27, 2013 6:24 pm

      Oh don’t worry! I’m a confirmed lover of Anthony Trollope, among many older authors, so I can definitely put aside contemporary gender roles. :) It’s just something I like to mention in my posts, as an observation more than anything else. And in this case, it felt just a bit forced that the woman involved would suddenly turn into quite so helpless a creature considering her past history.

  5. November 27, 2013 11:11 pm

    Sounds like another series I should read! I read the synopsis you wrote and could have used it to describe a Georgette Heyer mystery I just finished. I’ve never read Heyer’s mysteries; just her Regency romances. The mystery (The Unfinished Clue) was a good bit of fun.

  6. aartichapati permalink
    December 8, 2013 10:22 am

    Ooh, onto the wish list this author goes! Thanks for the suggestion – sounds great to be cozy for the winter ;-)

    When do you move?!

  7. December 8, 2013 7:11 pm

    Thanks for this review…the author was totally unfamiliar to me. Mysteries and knitting: that pretty much sums up the atmosphere of a cozy! And whatever happened to spinsters and governesses? I will keep an eye out for this; it sounds like just the thing for a winter afternoon.

  8. December 8, 2013 9:23 pm

    This looks pretty interesting!

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