Patricia Wentworth (1877 –1961)

51z WKx-6yL._SY200_Patricia Wentworth was born Dora Amy Elles in Mussoorie, India in 1878 [according to other sources she was born in 1877, not in 1878 as has sometimes been stated]. She was the daughter of a British army officer. She received a high school education at Blackheath High School in London where she and her two brothers were sent to live with her grandmother. After her graduation, she returned to India. She published her first work in the Civil and Military Gazette there. She married Colonel George Dillon in 1906. He died shortly after and left her with a young daughter and three stepsons. She and her children returned to England. She began writing and published six historical fiction novels between 1910 and 1915. In 1920, she married Lieutenant George Oliver Turnbull and moved to Surrey. He encouraged her writing and acted as a scribe for the novels which she dictated to him. Wentworth wrote her first mystery novel The Astonishing Adventure of Jane Smith in 1923. Her first Maud Silver book, Grey Mask was written in 1928. Nine years and fifteen mystery novels later, she returned to Maud Silver, who became her most popular character. Ms. Wentworth wrote over seventy novels. She died on January 28, 1961.

Maud Silver is perhaps Ms. Wentworth’s best known character, and there are 32 Miss Silver novels. Maud Silver, a spinster, retired from her position as a governess and opened a private detective agency. She is quite efficient, and seems to know a great number of people, especially those in the police. She starts a new notebook for each case, and is always knitting garments for her nieces and nephews. Her clients are usually from the upper classes. Wentworth’s novels are definitely cozy, and are frequently set in English villages. Miss Silver was so popular in the US during the 1940’s that Lippincott of Philadelphia became her primary publisher and released the Miss Silver novels in the US before their release in England. Patricia Wentworth’s other characters include Ernest Lamb, a chief investigator who sometimes works with Miss Silver, and Randal March, the chief constable of the county where many of Miss Silver’s cases occur. (Source:

A comprehensive bibliography is available here.

To be honest I must admit that the only book by Patricia Wentworth I have read, here, was not precisesly of my liking. Consequently, I was hesitant whether to include her or not on my list. But I changed my mind after having a look at what Curtis Evans wrote at The Passing Tramp about Patricia Wentworth. Thus, I’ll give her another try.

There is no doubt in my mind that Wentworth is a notable figure in mystery genre history precisely for popularizing–indeed, I would say, playing a huge role in originating the very popular conception of–the cozy detective novel.  Beginning in 1943, when she published The Chinese Shawl and Miss Silver Deals with Death, Wentworth over fifteen years published more than two dozen Miss Silver mysteries, most of them, I believe, true detective novels and all of them “cozy,” set in genteel milieus where the social order is disturbed but restored at the end …… (The Passing Tramp)


(Facsimile Dust Jacket, J. B. Lippincott Company (USA), 1949)

James Cray was always a cruel man . . .
When he was 21 James Lessiter told Henrietta Cray that he loved her before all things and so broke Catherine Lee’s heart. But James has a side to him that most people do not see. When the engagement is broken off no one is sure why and Rietta refuses to explain.
Twenty years later James returns to the village an extremely wealthy man. Rietta is still unmarried and Catherine is a penniless widow living in a cottage on the Lessiter estate.
Trouble is inevitable, for Catherine has started to sell some of the valuable contents of the cottage to keep up a lifestyle she cannot afford but James has his suspicions and is looking forward to exposing her. He has always enjoyed seeing someone else suffer whatever the cost. (Source: Hodder & Stoughton).

Review: The Coldstone (1930) by Patricia Wentworth

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

This entry is my second contribution to the meme Crimes of the Century hosted at Past Offences. This month the year under review is #1930.

Dean Street Press, 2016. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 1491 KB. Print length: 290 pages. The Coldstone was originally published in 1930. This new edition features an introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans. eISBN: 978 1 911413 20 2. ASIN: B01H7HMBRI. .

30642895Synopsis: When young Anthony Colstone inherits Stonegate from his grandfather’s cousin, he hardly expects to be haunted by death. Why had Sir Jervis wanted him to promise never to move the ancient megalithic stones and why did no one even know how many there were? Surely old Susan Bowyer knows—she is nearly one hundred and she knows everything about the village. And perhaps her great-granddaughter, Susan, knows something, at one moment a shy village maid, the next a sophisticated young woman. Then one night a wall in the queer old library moves and Anthony finds himself on the trail of a mystery exceeding his wildest imagining. Mystery, adventure, and romance combine in Patricia Wentworth’s most sparkling manner.

My take: This novel is part of the project, carried out recently by Dean Street Press, to republish all 33 non-Miss Silver novels by Patricia Wentworth. For further information click here. Most of these novels were hard to find. An ambitious project that I personally applaud and that I would like to see repeated with many other authors. 

But having said that, I must confess that I have had to struggle to finish reading The Coldstone. These kind of novels are not my cup of tea. I don’t  know if this is the general tone of the rest of Wentworth novels without Miss Silver.  A pity since these novels are highly appreciated by Curtis Evans, one of the best historians of the Golden Age of detective novels, that I know. His blog The Passing Tramp  is an endless source of knowledge. In any case, both Curtis Evans and Dean Street Press are doing a commendable job by providing the public of today, easy access to classic mysteries.

I strongly recommend a visit to Curtis Evans 150 Favorite Golden Age British Detective Novels, to anyone who wants to become initiated in this sub-genre.

My rating: D ( I finished it, but it’s not my cup of tea)

See Amazon Customer Review

About the author: Patricia Wentworth was born Dora Amy Elles in India in 1877 (not 1878 as has sometimes been stated). She was first educated privately in India, and later at Blackheath School for Girls. Her first husband was George Dillon, with whom she had her only child, a daughter. She also had two stepsons from her first marriage, one of whom died in the Somme during World War I. Her first novel was published in 1910, but it wasn’t until the 1920’s that she embarked on her long career as a writer of mysteries. Her most famous creation was Miss Maud Silver, who appeared in 32 novels, though there were a further 33 full-length mysteries not featuring Miss Silver-the entire run of these is now reissued by Dean Street Press. Patricia Wentworth died in 1961. She is recognized today as one of the pre-eminent exponents of the classic British golden age mystery novel.


Dean Street Press publicity page 

Patricia Wentworth webpage at Wikipedia

The Coldstone de Patricia Wentworth

Sinopsis: Cuando el joven Anthony Colstone hereda Stonegate del primo de su abuelo, lo menos que espera es ser perseguido por la muerte. ¿Por qué había querido Sir Jervis que prometiera no remover las antiguas piedras megalíticas y por qué ni siquiera se sabía cuántas había? Seguramente la anciana Susan Bowyer lo sabe, ella tiene casi cien años y sabe todo sobre el pueblo. Y tal vez su bisnieta, Susan, sabe algo, en un momento dado una tímida doncella pueblerina, al momento siguiente una mujer joven y sofisticada. Entonces, una noche una pared en la extraña y antigua biblioteca se mueve y Anthony se encuentra tras la pista de un misterio que excede su más salvaje imaginación. Misterio, aventura e historia de amor se combinan en la forma más brillante de Patricia Wentworth.

Mi opinión:  Esta novela forma parte del proyecto, llevado a cabo recientemente por Dean Street Press,de  volver a publicar las 33 novelas de Patricia Wentworth no protagonizadas por Miss Silver. Para más información haga clic aquí. La mayoría de estas novelas eran difíciles de encontrar. Un ambicioso proyecto que, personalmente, aplaudo y que me gustaría ver repetido con muchos más autores.

Pero dicho esto, debo confesar que he tenido que esforzarme por terminar la lectura de The Coldstone. Esta clase de novelas no es santo de mi devoción.  No sé si es éste el tono general del resto de novelas de Wentworth sin Miss Silver. Una lástima, ya que estas novelas son muy apreciadas por Curtis Evans, uno de los mejores historiadores de la època dorada  de la novela de detectives, que conozco. Su blog The Passing Tramp  es una fuente inagotable de conocimientos. En cualquier caso, tanto Curtis Evans como Dean Street Press están haciendo un trabajo encomiable, proporcionando al público de hoy en día, fácil acceso a los clásicos de misterio.

Recomiendo una visita a las 150 novelas policíacas favorita de la edad de oro británicas de Curtis Evans a cualquier persona que quiera iniciarse en este subgénero.

Mi valoración: D (Lo terminé, pero no es santo de mi devoción).

Sobre la autora: Patricia Wentworth nació Dora Amy Elles en la India en 1877 (no en 1878 como se ha indicado en ocasiones). Se educó inicialmente en forma privada en la India, y más tarde en la Escuela de mujeres Blackheath. Su primer marido fué George Dillon, con el que tuvo a su único hijo, una niña. También tuvo dos hijastros de su primer matrimonio, uno de ellos  murió en el Somme durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Publicó su primera novela en 1910, pero no fue hasta la década de 1920 cuando se embarcó en su larga carrera como escritora de misterios . Su creación más famosa fue Miss Silver Maud, que protagonizó 32 novelas, aunque escribió otras 33 novelas de misterio en los que no aparece Miss Silver. Todos ellos han sido reeditados ahora por Dean Street Press. Patricia Wentworth murió en 1961. Está reconocida hoy como una de las representantes más eminentes de la época dorada de la clásica novela de misterio británica.

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