The Clock Strikes Twelve is a Miss Silver mystery, first published in 1945 but when the story begins it’s New Year’s Eve, 1940. The Paradine family has gathered at the family home for the celebrations. James Paradine, a widower and the head of his family, makes a speech to the effect that someone in the family has been disloyal, and some documents have gone missing.
He expects the culprit to visit him in his study before midnight.
But he doesn’t survive the night, and he must have been murdered by one of his relatives. Miss Silver is called in to investigate.
I enjoyed this one, it’s a typical big house whodunnit, and the various family members are well written, with their various dislikes and suspicions of each other.
On the surface, Miss Maud Silver seems so similar to Miss Marple that you would think that Agatha Christie would have had grounds for complaint because Miss Marple first appears in 1926 whereas Miss Silver comes to life in 1928. But although they are both elderly ladies, and spinsters who have a penchant for crime solving as well as knitting, they are in fact quite different.
Miss Silver is a retired governess who is very professional, unlike Miss Marple who is far more airy fairy in personality, whether actual or cultivated. Even Miss Silver’s knitting is more convincing, we are told that she is knitting a suit for young Roger, a three year old of her acquaintance, the colour of her wool and the design and she finishes the leggings just as the book comes to an end. As a knitter myself, I like to know what people are knitting, just as much as I enjoy hearing about the books that people are reading. Mind you, I like Miss Marple too.