James and Carmona Hardwick are spending the summer playing host to numerous friends and relatives in an old Hardwick family residence by the sea. The arrival of Alan Field, a devastatingly handsome though shady figure from Carmona's past, destroys the holiday atmosphere in the old house and replaces it with a mounting tension, culminating in murder. Fortunately, Miss Silver is present to unravel the complex mystery and seek out the murderer amongst them.
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From Vintage Mystery days
Patricia Wentworth will probably never be as well known as her contemporary Agatha Christie (and can she ever even escape the comparison?) The main character, Maud Silver, a one-time governess/teacher is now an elderly spinster detective who knits her way through one mystery after another. So the thoughts of Jane Marple are inevitable. But there are some differences. Maud Silver does hold herself out to be a professional detective, as sort of a second career, and she works with Inspector Abbott (who was also her former pupil) to solve cases. Also, and I think this is the critical difference between the two authors, Christie's characters are a bit more vividly created. Wentworth's are more subtle--with equally well thought out mysteries, but slightly less colorful people to have been involved in them.
This one involves an entire group of family and friends who have all, in one way or another, been hurt by one person. So when that person turns up dead, there are many suspects to choose from. Wentworth does an excellent job of detailing all the clues so the story can come to an end in more or less the classical way, popular during that era.
I have only listened to these books via Audible.com, never read one, so the narrator, Diana Bishop is the voice of Maud Silver (and everyone else) for me. I can't even imagine reading one or hearing it in a different voice. So I think her very soft, cultured-sounding voice adds to my overall perception of this series as a tiny bit less exciting than Christie, yet fully as enjoyable in a different way. I think they are a little more cerebral--for those who like to follow all the clues and figure them out, and yet Maud Silver is a dear and beloved character in her own right. I like the series, and have listened to a lot of the books by now. I would say this particular book is not the best, but better than some others in the series I have listened to. It's a very good listen. A solid Vintage Age mystery.
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Wentworth classics never disappioint
What did you love best about Out of the Past?
I love most all things in the Wentworth mysteries. Miss Silver, most certainly!
What was one of the most memorable moments of Out of the Past?
Cannot define just one. Love the interactions between the lovers/friends. Wentworth is an expert at dialogue. A master.
Have you listened to any of Diana Bishop’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Yes. I have listened to Ms. Bishop many times. She is good in that she does not over-act and keep raising her voice. Who wants to hear shouting in an audible book?
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Mostly. I read all of Wentworth long ago when I was still able to read a proper, print book, before my eyes went wonky.
Any additional comments?
I'd say Wentworth is one of those amazing ladies of the Cozy Mystery/Tea Cake Ladies genre. I wish we had some NOW.
The reader was very disappointing.
What disappointed you about Out of the Past?
I love Miss Silver Mysteries, but couldn't tolerate the reader.
Would you ever listen to anything by Patricia Wentworth again?
Yes, I love Patricia Wentworth.
Would you be willing to try another one of Diana Bishop’s performances?
Yes, because I usually enjoy her performance. This one was just not up to her usual standard.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
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