I recently made the acquaintance of Miss Maud Silver, the private investigator in the mystery series by Patricia Wentworth. My library suddenly has the books in the series on its ebook shelf.
Grey Mask, published in 1928, is the first. The plot is pretty familiar and at times a bit complicated. There is an heiress who might not be a legitimate heiress but a shadowy group of people are out to 'remove' her. This criminal group has members that it has blackmailed into doing its evil deeds and everyone goes by a number instead of a name. A few characters take on an alias to protect their identity. There is the tattered romance between the main character Charles Moray and Margaret Langton. From the beginning we know that Margaret is part of the secret organization but we don't know why...yet.
There are many characters and much of the action turns on coincidence and chance meetings and overheard conversations. There is a hint, too, that a character who is supposed to be dead is alive. I am about halfway through the book and trust that all will eventually be revealed.
Miss Silver doesn't make an appearance until well into the story. She is a retired governess and teacher. She knits. I suppose it helps her think. She is not at all like Miss Marple (Miss Silver came first) in that she is a professional detective and has an office in London. I suppose she gets paid although that is never mentioned. It also doesn't mention if she has employees but she seems to find out a lot of information by following people on her own.
Here is how she is introduced in her office:
...a small, light, room, very bare - furnished to the first glance at any rate, by a chair, a writing-table and Miss Silver herself.
The writing-table was immense, of the large old-fashioned flat kind with drawers all round it; the top was piled high with exercise-books of different colours very neatly stacked.
Miss Silver sat in front of a pad of pink blotting-paper. She was a little person with no features, no complexion, and a great deal of tidy mouse-coloured hair done in a large bun at the back of her head. She inclined her head slightly, but did not offer to shake hands.
It feels as if Ms. Wentworth threw every sort of mystery scenario into this first book. That said, I do find myself enjoying the tale even though the character around which the mystery revolves - the 'maybe' heiress - is quite annoying. She babbles constantly and that gets her in lots of trouble and wreaks havoc with the lives of the people trying to help her. She spends much of her time eating chocolates and writing letters to a school friend. (I can't really fault her for either of those last two things!)
I find it difficult to believe that it has taken me so long to begin to read the Miss Silver mysteries. I am glad that they are available to me as ebooks. My Kindle is so much easier to hold for reading in bed at night. Best of all, there is nothing in these easy-going mysteries to give me nightmares.