OUT OF THE PAST by Patricia Wentworth

PastThis Agatha Christie look-alike mystery was written in 1953 by Patricia Wentworth, a very popular whodunnit kind of crime fiction writer.  She wrote 32 books over the first half of the 20th century, and many of them featured the redoubtable Miss Silver.

Miss Silver is something of a private detective in England,  and has much of the Miss Marple character about her, minus the dithering.  But she does knit a lot.

As in many of the crime stories of the era, (Think Mary Roberts Rinehart, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha  Christie), the emphasis is on the mystery, the puzzle, rather than on the gore or character development.  As is often the case with this  style mystery, the murdered person comes on the scene making himself quite disagreeable to everyone, and it is clear to the reader from the start that he is a ne’er-do-well, and a cad.   He goes about blackmailing everyone at a seaside house party, so it is no surprise when he is found dead in the beach changing hut.  But who did the dirty?  We have no end of possible suspects, but it is Miss Silver who is able to help out the fine detective on the case.

A lovely satisfying mystery which seems a teensy bit formulaic, but only because we have become jaded from reading so very many mysteries over the years.  I have read every single one of Agatha Christie’s works, most of Rinehart’s fine stories, and many of Sayers’, but so what?  A nice pleasant murder mystery always appeals.

As a side note, it is interesting to learn that quite a few of the famous female mystery writers took to the pen in order to support their families.



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