When a new clue arises in a long-closed murder inquiry, Miss Silver fights to free an innocent man
Marion Grey is growing used to the idea that her husband will never leave prison. After the horrors of a very public trial she is almost able to find relief in her resignation. But when new evidence suggests her husband may be innocent after all, she hires a professional—Miss Silver—to clear his name. It begins with a chance encounter on a busy train, when a friend of Marion’s meets a half-mad woman who claims to know something of the Grey case. With her is a man who disappeared during the trial, and may know something that could see Marion’s husband set free. Who is he, and where has he gone? To find out, the demure detective Miss Silver must track him down before becoming a victim herself.
I love it when mysteries don’t follow the typical story arc of introduction-murder-clue gathering-solution. It’s more interesting when they do something different, like in The Case Is Closed which starts after the solution’s already happened and the murderer’s been in jail for over a year. We’re introduced to the murderer’s wife, who has been living a half-life since her husband (Geoffrey Grey) was put into jail, and his wife’s cousin, Hilary, who is a plucky young adult who recently broke up with her boorish fiance.
It’s obvious fairly quickly that Geoffrey is NOT the murderer, and not just because his wife and Hilary wish it so. There are slight holes in the case, and when Hilary pokes at them unexpected things start to happen.
Also there is another cousin with bright red hair, and we all know how View Spoiler »red-headed people are always the villains « Hide Spoiler. Especially when combined with fey characteristics. One of the downers of this book is how obvious the actual murderer is, especially since he’s SO trope-y.
Also disappointing: Hilary’s boorish fiance, who has some sort of power issues with Hilary and spends most of the book trying to be the alpha male. He doesn’t like it when Hilary does things her own way and he punishes her by being super passive-aggressive. He doesn’t come off as romantic to me, but maybe that’s the distance of several decades of evolving romantic ideals talking.
Miss Silver, as seems to be usual now in every book but the first, shows up and knows everything and practically deus ex machinas the solution. It’s so weird because I’d say she wasn’t even necessary–Hilary and co. were doing a great job solving the crime themselves!–except to drag the plot forward. She does have good insight into the motives of criminals, but they could’ve gotten that from a friendly investigator or something.
How strange to be superfluous in your own book.
Anyway: while I’m over Miss Silver herself, I like the other characters. Especially Hilary, who is headstrong despite having an unfortunate fondness for men who want to stomp all over her feelings. And I loved the unusual format of the story! And the mystery is actually pretty good, despite having an unfortunately obvious bad guy.
Read: January 9, 2015