The Clock Strikes 12 by Patricia Wentworth

Victim sets a New Year deadline for his own murder

The Clock Strikes Twelve is the seventh Miss Silver mystery
The Clock Strikes Twelve is the
seventh Miss Silver mystery
James Paradine, a wealthy businessman, announces at a family dinner on New Year’s Eve that valuable blueprints have been stolen from his study and he will give the culprit until midnight to come to him and confess.

It will come as no surprise to seasoned readers of the classic crime novel that early the next morning Paradine is found dead in the grounds of his home.

In The Clock Strikes 12, the seventh mystery by Patricia Wentworth to feature her prim governess-turned-private detective, Miss Silver, there are plenty of suspects for the reader to consider. The late James Paradine had a grown-up family, some of who are married, and many of them are actively involved in his business.

The characters and different situations of the family and staff living in the house are well described by the author, making them seem real to the reader, something that was unusual for a Golden Age classic crime novel.

There is also a strong subplot about the thwarted relationship between Phyllida, the beautiful adopted daughter of Paradine’s sister, and Elliot, a talented young designer working for Paradine who is crucial to the success of the family firm. The couple were married briefly, but have been apart for nearly a year for reasons that are slowly and cleverly revealed by the author.

Miss Silver is called in by a member of the family to try to help solve the murder and she is allowed by the police to work alongside their investigating officers. She has to unravel an elaborate tangle of alibis, motives, and clues to get to the truth.

Patricia Wentworth was fond of quoting poetry
Patricia Wentworth was
fond of quoting poetry
Placidly sitting knitting in the background, Miss Silver emerges as a more distinct personality in this novel, which was first published in 1945, than she perhaps did in the earlier stories about her investigations.

The novelist Patricia Wentworth, who was born in 1877 in British India, wrote 32 novels in the classic whodunnit style featuring her character Maud Silver, a retired governess and teacher who has set up as a professional private investigator in London.

Fond of quoting from the poetry of Lord Tennyson, Miss Silver often works closely with Scotland Yard. She sees and hears everything and has a brilliant mind. From her observations, she cleverly works out what has happened in each of her cases and is able to explain how to expose the murderer.

IThe Clock Strikes 12 is a clever, well plotted mystery, perfect for reading in the days after Christmas while relaxing in front of the fire.

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