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richardderus

Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

90 years on, Miss Silver still amuses

Grey Mask - Patricia Wentworth

Rating: 3* of five In the 90 years since this was written, I think its central premise...that people will do anything to avoid embarrassment...has proved an evergreen turned inside out. Reality TV takes everyone's dirtiest and smelliest laundry public. The characters in this book would have expired in smallish heaps of the honour-vapours at their great-grandchildren's idea of entertainment. Miss Silver is clearly carrying the pertussis bacterium. Her cough is ever-present. I remember from reading these books in the 1980s how irritating I found it. The identity of Grey Mask was pretty obvious to me from the first time they appear in mufti, so to speak. One amusing piece of retrospective theater is enough to make my day, and it takes place in the very first scene. There are over 30 of these little marvies. They are all, au fond, the same book. Either you like that book or you don't. Don't read this one and think, "oh well, maybe the others are better" because they really aren't. I like them. They're quiet and peaceful little murder plots for silly and quite overblown stakes. Miss Silver is more of a sleuth than Marple ever was, in that she sallies forth in her colourless shmattes and her mouse-fur coloured hair and those blah gray eyes that see every-goddamned-thing and doesn't seem to rely as much on chitter-chatter from every ladies' maid in 1920s London. Try one. If it's not to your taste, well it didn't cost much.