Monday, January 27, 2014

Weekend With Death, Patricia Wentworth


Weekend With Death (1941) by Patricia Wentworth is her penultimate stand-alone mystery novel. Silence in Court (1945) was her final stand-alone but she wrote 29 more Miss Silvers novels before her death in 1961.

Weekend With Death is more of a spy thriller with an unwilling civilian protagonist that a cozy whodunit. Wentworth supplies the novel with an interesting cast of characters, especially a pair of paranormal investigating siblings, but the plot has appalling logical gaffes.

Still, Wentworth creates a great deal of suspense and manages to pull off a couple of nifty surprises (though it could be argued that she doesn't completely play fair).

As Weekend With Death was published during World War II, it seems strange that the bad guys are only obliquely identified as Germans until Hitler's name is finally mentioned in the book's final pages. Not an especially rousing book for propaganda purposes. Were Wentworth and the publishers, J.B. Lippincott in the U.S. and in the U.K., under the title Unlawful Occasions, Lythway Press, hedging their bets? Seems unlikely, but the question begs for further research.

Taking a cue from Past Offences blog, I'm going to start mentioning where I found the book under review and how much I paid for it. Weekend With Death was a bargain at just a quarter from the University City Public Library book sale. Considering that prices on-line range from $60 for a vintage paperback (see below) to $750 for the hardcover first edition I'd say I got quite a deal. My first edition hardcover has some bent pages in the middle, lacks a dust cover (see above), and has a loose spine so it's not a particularly prime specimen.

Two-and-a-half daggers out of four.

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