Lonesome Road

One of the first books I blogged about was a Miss Silver mystery by Patricia Wentworth, and I planned on adding her to my regular list of mystery reads. How easily my plans get sidetracked! I quickly remembered why I enjoyed her book, and Lonesome Road was the perfect follow-up in my sick-day mystery binge.

Rachel Treherne has never been thrilled to have the responsibility of her father’s sizable inheritance. Some she used to develop and maintain Treherne Homes, but much of it can only be disposed of by her will, which she must rewrite every year to alter the distribution among family members. Furthermore, said family members tend to rely on her a little too much for her own liking. Her older sister Mabel Wadlow is whining and peevish, with a husband who has little to recommend himself. Their children Maurice and Cherry are selfish and spoiled, a bit too vulgar for Rachel’s tastes. She prefers her young distant relations Richard and Caroline, though the latter has been acting strangely as of late. Even her dear cousin Cosmos’ constant proposals are beginning to grate.

The stress of the inheritance pales, however, in view of the recent accidents. As little as Rachel would like to believe it, it appears someone is after her safety or even her life. At her devoted companion Louisa’s insistence she seeks out the confidence of Miss Silver, who sees the danger of the situation for herself. Despite Rachel’s reluctance to admit the problem it seems the accidents are just the beginning, and only Miss Silver can have the presence of mind to stop them from going too far.

One of my favorite elements of mysteries is comparing the styles, and Miss Silver is so different from Perry Mason. Where he takes evidence and details and timetables and the like all very seriously, she is more inclined to be an observer of human nature. Of course, the types of mysteries they solve almost necessitate these approaches. Patricia Wentworth’s books all seem to be the country house murder sort, where even if the locale is different, the investigation features a closed setting and an intimate cast of suspects, all related somehow or another. It is of utmost importance for Miss Silver to determine the level and sincerity of all the relationships in order to ascertain motive. Mason’s cases are usually much more impersonal, and of course he would look silly representing the defendant in court without relying on hard evidence. It was nice to have a change of pace, though–no dead body and less to keep track of as a reader.

I  confess that when Rachel Treherne was described as being in her forties, I thought to myself that she must not be the heroine, then, because heroines are always young and in love. I do prefer younger heroines if I have to choose, at least for now, but it’s a pleasant change of pace to have one a bit older. The only other book of this type I can think of off the top of my head is Strangers in Company, by Jane Aiken Hodge. Feel free to prove me wrong with any others you know!

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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