The Chinese Shawl was first published in 1943, it’s a Miss Silver mystery and I must say that the more time I spend in the company of Miss Silver – the more I like her. In fact I really loved this book, possibly because I read it just after reading Gray’s Lanark which wasn’t exactly a relaxing read for me. There are times when vintage crime is the only thing which hits the spot.
Tanis Lyle is one of those women who should have ‘dangerous to men’ stamped on her forehead. Well that’s a wee bit unfair because she’s equally as damaging to women, especially those who have husbands or fiances. Tanis just loves to make other women’s men her slaves, gets as much as she can out of them then dumps them.
Tanis has been brought up by a much older cousin, Agnes, and they live in an old house called the Priory which has been in the family for generations, but they are only tenants as it is owned by Laura Fane, another cousin and she has been estranged from the family due to the fact that her parents had run off to get married when her father had been expected to marry his cousin Agnes. Cousin Agnes is determined to buy the Priory for Tanis and as Laura is going to be 21 soon and so able to make financial decisions on her own, Agnes intends to get her own way and twist Laura’s arm, so with that in view Laura is invited to the Priory which she hasn’t even seen before, although she owns it.
What a ghastly thought, marrying a cousin, but it used to be quite normal amongst the upper classes, to keep the money and property within the family. It explains a lot about the so-called upper classes!
Anyway, there’s a murder, and plenty of suspects. But as Miss Silver is one of the guests staying at the Priory it’s obvious that she’s going to get to the bottom of it. Not only does she solve the mystery but she does it whilst knitting two pink baby’s vests, two pairs of bootees (one pink, one blue) with an intricate design and towards the end she has a small pale blue jacket on her clicking needles. She’s some woman that Miss Silver!