Anna, Where Are You? by Patricia Wentworth was published in 1953 and it’s a Miss Silver mystery.
Unusually (I think) Miss Silver’s entrance in this book is on the very first page where she’s perusing the births, deaths and marriages columns of her copy of The Times, but it’s the Agony Column which really attracts her interest. Someone called Thomasina is looking for Anna – Please Write. That short message leads Miss Silver into a dangerous investigation.
Thomasina is looking for her old schoolfriend Anna who has left a suitcase with Thomasina to look after. It’s ages since Anna has been in touch though and Thomasina is worried about her. Thomasina’s fiance Peter Brandon can’t understand why she is worried as Anna isn’t a very nice person and not much of a friend, but Thomasina feels sorry for her.
Miss Silver’s investigation takes her to Deepe House which is a bit of a wreck as the middle of it had been bombed during the war. Peveril Craddock, the new owner, has re-named it Harmony House, he’s an obnoxious character who is supposed to be writing a great work but his wife Emily and step-children are obviously frightened of him, although he has a bevy of strange female admirers who live in ‘the colony’ – nearby cottages.
Anna had been at Deepe House, looking after the rather out of control children but she had left no clue as to where she was going. Inspector Frank Abbott gets involved when during his investigation into a nearby bank robbery and murder he has to question the people at the house and the colony. Miss Silver’s past experience as a governess comes in handy as the Craddocks are very happy to have her as part of the household where she solves the mystery and sorts out the children too.
This one was a bit of a slow burner for me but it ended up being really good as I had no idea what had been going on!
Murder at the Loch by Eric Brown is the third in his Langham and Dupre mystery series and this one is possibly even better than the first two Murder by the Book and Murder at the Chase.
The setting is a freezing cold December in 1955. Donald Langham is of course a writer and he’s preparing for his marriage to his fiancee Maria Dupre, but his wartime commanding officer Major Gordon has contacted him and his friend Ralph Ryland, he needs their help. Donald and Ralph drop everything and go off to help.
Major Gordon now owns a luxury hotel in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands, so it’s to the hotel that Donald and Ralph make their way as someone has been taking potshots at the major – or maybe they were aiming at the major’s companion.
Major Gordon is attempting to raise the wreck of a German Dornier bomber which had crashed into the nearby loch in 1945. The winter weather has hampered the project, but it also seems that someone doesn’t want the Dornier to be lifted from the loch. Why would that be? And why was a Dornier flying in that area in 1945 anyway? Who or what were its cargo?
As the weather closes in on them Donald and Ralph are stranded in the hotel with the rest of the guests, then one of them is murdered. With everyone under suspicion Murder at the Loch has all of the suspense of a vintage murder mystery and the charm too.
It was only a matter of time before Maria Dupre managed to get in on the act too and Donald’s literary agent Charles Elder makes a welcome entrance towards the end of the book when he is finally released from Wormwood Scrubs where he has been languishing “at Her Majesty’s pleasure,” – in other words he’s been in jail – due to the discriminatory laws of the time. Charles is one of my favourite characters in this series so I hope he has an even bigger part to play in the next book.
I love Eric Brown’s writing and his ability to capture the atmosphere of the 1950s.
Although Eric is a typical Yorkshireman he has been living in Scotland for a number of years now and so this book counts towards the Read Scotland 2016 Challenge.