British Library, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham
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.
“You mustn’t go to Meade House. I’ve heard…”
“How would you like to die for your country?” asked Benbow Smith languidly.
“Beware – walk with care,
Or mumbo jumbo will hoodoo you.”
“You talk of him as if he were alive.”
“He is alive,” said Benbow Smith.
“And you think he would do murder?”
“I am quite sure that he would do murder, Captain Loddon.”
“Do you want to make 500 pounds? If you do and are willing to earn it, write to...”
“I went down to the pool, and he was lying half in and half out of it with his head bleeding and the tide coming in. The water was up to his shoulders.”
Ice is still. Death is still. But no living flesh should be as still as this…
“Sylvia had on the wrong stockings for her dress, and her lipstick was all crooked, so I think things are pretty grim.”
“You told me a lot of things,” said James grimly. “Most of them weren’t true.”
“How would you like to be a rocket? A stranger for a week, an heiress for a week, then down with the stick and a stranger again.”
“I think you’re tempting fate when you say that you will never go back to Danesborough.”
Chloe laughed, suddenly, frankly.
“It’s a fate I don’t mind tempting,” she said.
Why can no-one stay at the Dower House?
Ten years! He had been dead ten years!
“I hate him worse than I hate snails, and worms, and slugs, and spiders with hairs down their legs…”
“They are letting me say good-bye. I’m to be shot to-morrow. It will be over by the time you get this…”
“I don’t know…no one knows…nobody knows but me…and they’re the finest emeralds in the world…the Van Berg emeralds…and nobody knows where they are but me…”
She was looking at the place where the mirror had hung. It didn’t reflect anything because the glass was gone. Instead there was a blackness, a dark hole full of shadows. There was a shuffling and a sighing, and a deep and dreadful groan. Then something moved.
“Anybody could have told you what Ross was like.”
“They did tell me,” said Mavis tearfully. “That’s why I did it.”
“I wouldn’t like to make you really angry, darling. You know, the only time I did you nearly scared me dead. I believe if you were really roused you might do something rather frightful.”
The parcel was addressed in sprawling capitals to “Antony Rossiter, Esq. By hand.” There was no more address than that.
Meg leaned forward suddenly. There was a note of terror in her voice. “Bill—where—is—Robin?”
Not a breath. Nothing. Just a dead man lying there on the tumbled bed…
“The door!” he shouted. “The door!” Every man in the room looked where Fifteen was looking. Above the water-lilies and the storks, where the top panel of the door had shown, there was a dark, empty space. The door was open.
“Thou hast betrayed, and thou hast slain…”
There was a hand pressed against the window, a large hand that looked unnaturally white. The light showed the pale fingers—and the still paler palm crossed by a dark, jagged scar.
“She’s a hula mula wula girl,
She’s a crazy daisy nightmare
My baby’s a scream.”
She had trembled. She had laughed her shaky little laugh. And she had vanished into thin air.
And the door was locked on the inside.
When she had let down her case, she locked her bedroom door. And then she put out the light and climbed out of the window.
“I know what we’ll do. We’ll play Devil-in-the dark.
“Are you sure? Don’t I inherit anything?”
“Not unless something happens to Miss Ann Vernon.”
Thief, kleptomaniac… or innocent victim of a malevolent plot to implicate her?
She held the candle steady and, stooping, touched the smeared patch with the tip of her finger.
The stain was blood.