Gregory Porlock’s party was a very successful one - from Gregory’s point of view. He was in the highest of spirits, and the fact that his guests were obviously not in a party mood only added to his enjoyment. He knew they all had good reason to fear and dislike him, and it amused him to play the part of the genial host, and to watch each of his visitors trying to act the part of a gay and carefree guest for the benefit of all the others. Gregory never knew that one of his visitors played two roles that evening, that someone doubled the part of guest and murderer, for in that drama Gregory Porlock was cast for a different role.
©1949 Patricia Wentworth (P)2012 Isis Publishing Ltd
Having read all the other Patricia Wentworth books that Audible has released so far, and having become thoroughly addicted to these books, which are old fashioned classic mysteries that celebrate the values of kindness and goodness while also employing villains you love to hate with utterly quirky obsessions and manners, I thought that the best Wentworths were behind me--but no! Spotlight is one of Wentworth's very best, with a big cast of oddballs creating a witch's brew of fear, suspicion, envy, and hatred at an ill-considered house party. A very nice young heroine and her dashing gentleman-would-be-sweetheart provide the foils to the nasties. As always, superbly narrated by Diana Bishop. If you like the old fashioned but smart type of British mystery, don't miss this!
Apparently this book was also published under the title "Wicked Uncle" and shows up under Audible's Miss Silver series list under that title (as "unavailable"). The series list should be corrected to reflect that.
In terms of the audiobook itself, Diana Bishop does her usual competent job of narration. I do get a little bored with her lack of variety for minor characters at times. After listening to most of the titles, I keep hearing the same four or five voices trotted out, but this is a minor complaint.
The author has done a particularly good job of creating characters you love to hate in this book. In fact, I almost stopped listening after the first 30 minutes because I was so irritated by the characters and scenario! However, I gritted my teeth and by the end of the first hour we were into the mystery proper and I was hooked. I must say I've never been quite so happy to see the victim offed.
In my personal opinion, Patricia Wentworth is not as strong a novelist as the first-rank Birtish mystery writers of the early-middle 20th century, but she's quite competent. In fact, given that she was a full generation older than some of those contemporaries (Wentworth was born in the 1870s), she has a surprisingly modern style.
Patricia Wentworth is a master of the Cozy Mystery. If you like a good puzzle without gruesome details her stories are ideal. The characters are believable and the settings are varied and interesting but this is where realism ends. So if you want realism the Miss Silver mysteries are not for you. If murder should ever be (and you need it if you want a murder mystery) then it should be like the murders Miss Silver typically encounters. With a few exceptions, it's the really bad people who get killed, and you can hardly wait for it to happen cause they are so nasty. In most books, the murderers turn out to be mean overwhelmingly bad people too; so there is not much sympathy extended for the murderer and great relief for all the innocent people who were unjustly suspected. In sum, good mental exercise for the reader trying to figure out the clues, appealing characters (none so much as Miss Silver herself), a bit of romance, and a fairly happy ending. What more can you want from a "cozy"?
This particular Miss Silver mystery was also called Wicked Uncle. It is listed with that name under the Miss Silver series list as book 12 and audible says its not available - but of course it is available under this title (Spotlight). It's not really difficult to guess who will get killed. However, with the set of unsavory characters assembled at a house party there is no lack of potential killers. There are also some nice people around- will this be the exception book- the one where a nice person did it? There are definitely enough great motives. Great story with lots of twists.
I actually read the print version before, but I love this Narrator so even though I realized from the blurb that this is "Wicked Uncle" I got it and loved the performance. Indeed when I read other Miss Silver mysteries that are not available in Audio format I seem to hear Diana Bishop's voice in my head, her voice"S" are the voices of the characters for me. I hope audible gets them all in the future- I will not hesitate to buy even the ones I already read.
After just having listened to a couple of adrenaline provoking titles, I really wanted to hyper down. So I turned to the ever delightful and calming Miss Silver, as read by the delightful and calming Diana Bishop.
Decades come and go, but Miss Silver does not change. She is the ultimate "stealth sleuth"--a highly observant, intelligent, and commanding detective she appears to be only what she, in fact, is--a retired governess.
In this case, a blackmailing rotter convenes a house party of victims, and guess who ends up murdered? Miss Silver, working with Scotland Yard, figures it all out. Yes, these books are comedic in that they usually end with the engagement of the ingenue to the young male lead, but they are not silly or farcical. And the steady, thoughtful presence of Miss Silver in the background is very, very reassuring.
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