Danger Point by Patricia Wentworth

Not so much a whodunit, more a question of who is trying to do it

Danger Point was first  published in 1941
Danger Point was first 
published in 1941
The self-effacing, elderly lady detective, Maud Silver, is sitting on a train about to depart to London when a young woman who is clearly very upset bursts into her compartment.

The woman is a wealthy heiress, Lisle Jerningham, who has recently got married and should have been blissfully happy. But she has overheard a sinister conversation in the garden of a country house, which has terrified her.

Lisle confides in Miss Silver about fleeing from the house party she had been attending after hearing total strangers discussing how her husband’s first wife died in an apparent accident. After Lisle’s new husband inherited his first wife’s considerable fortune, he was able to save his family home. The unknown people seemed to think her husband was broke again and were speculating about whether he would attempt to engineer a second convenient misadventure.

Miss Silver does her best to calm Lisle down and gives the distraught young woman her business card in case she wants to consult her professionally at any time.

But the beautiful heiress has mixed emotions once she has started to feel better. She loves her new husband, Dale Jerningham, and can’t allow herself to believe that he would wish to harm her, even though she has started to wonder about a recent incident when she nearly drowned while swimming with him and other members of his family.

Miss Silver does not know whether Lisle really is in danger or is simply being paranoid. But after another attempt is made on Lisle’s life, the young wife gets in touch with her at her London office and then subsequently cancels the appointment she has made. After reading in the newspaper that another young woman has been found dead near Lisle’s coastal home, the detective decides to travel there in order to investigate further.

Danger Point is Patricia Wentworth’s fourth Miss Silver novel and was first published in 1941. Like her previous Miss Silver story, Lonesome Road, it  involves a rich young woman who someone is trying to kill. But is it Lisle’s handsome husband, another member of his family, or a disgruntled former employee?

Patricia Wentworth could draw on a depth of life experiences
Patricia Wentworth could draw
on a depth of life experiences
Patricia Wentworth was the pen name of Dora Amy Elles, who was born in India, where her father was stationed with the British Army, in 1877. She was sent to England to be educated, but returned to India and married George Dillon in 1906. He had three children from a previous marriage and they had one child together. After his death she moved back to England with the children.

In 1920 she married again, to George Turnbull, and settled in Surrey. She had begun writing while in India and in 1910 had won the Melrose Prize for her first published novel, A Marriage Under the Terror, which was set during the French Revolution.

Under the pen name of Patricia Wentworth, she wrote 32 crime novels featuring Miss Silver, beginning with Grey Mask in 1928 and ending with Girl in the Cellar in 1961, the year of her death. Miss Silver develops as a character during the series and works closely with Scotland Yard. The reader eventually discovers she is a retired governess with a passion for Tennyson as well as for knitting.

I would recommend Danger Point, which is very well written with good descriptions of the coastal scenery that form the backdrop for the story. Patricia maintains the mystery and the suspense right until the end. It is less a question of whodunit and more a matter of the reader finding out who is trying to do it.

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