Dorinda Brown takes a job working for the wealthy Porlock family on a whim, and quickly finds it to be the hardest position she has ever had. The father, Gregory, is a charming tyrant—just the sort of man her aunt always warned her about. His wife is an overfed fool, entirely blind to the defects of her despicable son, and unsympathetic to the pain he causes his governesses. All that Dorinda can stand, for she needs the job. But when murder comes to the Porlock house, it brings along much more unpleasantness. There is a question of blackmail, first of all, and a shocking realization about Dorinda’s past. All told, it adds up to a frightful mystery—the sort that only Miss Maud Silver, the governess-turned-detective, can solve.
This is my second Miss Silver book and I seem to be correct in thinking it doesn’t matter what order you read the series in. They’re only connected by similar characters (Miss Silver and her adoring police brigade), and even that’s a little tenuous. Miss S didn’t even show up in Wicked Uncle until more almost halfway through, and then she spends all her time sitting around knitting and looking pointedly at various people.
I can see becoming annoyed with her after a while, because the sit-and-stare sort of detective can be super boring. Luckily, though, the other characters in Wicked Uncle pick up the slack!
The majority of the book is actually about the wicked uncle’s niece, Dorinda Brown. She’s a typical 20-something Londoner with a wonderfully bright personality, and she’s totally in love with her cousin who’s an inscrutable alpha male.
Actually, Wicked Uncle is a little more like a romance than a mystery! At least for the first half, anyway. I really enjoyed that–and I kinda wish there’d been more because the mystery part was slightly banal.
I mean, who invites a group of people you’re blackmailing to a dinner party and expects NOT to get killed? Are we in Clue or something?
It’s also fairly obvious who the murderer is from the get-go, so all the interest I had was centered on Dorinda and her relationship with her cousin. (They’re third cousins or something, don’t worry.) Though it was also totally adorable how the various police officers responded to Miss Silver; they mostly all love her like one would like an eccentric great aunt, and it’s fun to see them fluttering around trying to make her happy by solving the crime quickly. Makes a nice change from amateur detectives who make enemies of the police, right?
Read: December 23-25, 2014