Have you met Miss Silver? A small, elderly woman, neatly dressed in an old-fashioned style and with a Queen Alexandra hairdo. She looks like the last of the Victorians but grown men quail before her glance and feel they are back in the schoolroom. Since retiring as a governess she has found a new interest and an improved income by carrying out private investigations, often helping out her former pupil, Frank Abbott, now a gentleman policeman. Grey Mask has been reissued by Open Road, New York and a copy was sent to my Kindle through NetGalley. As soon as I started the book I realised I had read it before but couldn’t remember the ending so it was still a treat.
Charles Moray has been abroad for four years after being jilted by his fiancée Margaret. Deciding to have a look at his house before moving back in, he finds a room occupied by a gang of criminals, plotting no good to an unknown heiress. To Charles’ horror he recognises Margaret among them, so resolves not to go straight to the police but to investigate the matter himself. The potential victim of the crime, Margot Standing, is one of the silliest girls you could meet in fiction. Patricia Wentworth specialised in dim, helpless girls with no one to look after them. Grey Mask and his gang intend to get Margot out of the way so as to obtain her vast inheritance. Who is this man in the horrible rubber mask? Who are his confederates, known only by numbers?
A job for Miss Silver, as usual thinking and working things out while she knits and always one step ahead of the police in her powers of perception. Charles’ desire to keep Margaret out of it hampers the proceedings somewhat. ‘Charles took his leave of her. He admired Miss Silver; but he became aware that he was a good deal afraid of her.’ If only people would pay attention to Miss Silver and follow her advice, lives would be saved and cases solved more quickly. But where would the stories be then? Once you’ve acquired a taste for Miss Silver there’s a treat in store for you as there are thirty two books to read! Very often she doesn’t appear until half way through the book and I prefer the stories where she’s in at the beginning. My favourite is Miss Silver Intervenes.