Pilgrim’s Rest (Patricia Wentworth)

There is a curse on the house of Pilgrims’ Rest: anyone who tries to sell the place dies. One Pilgrim broke his neck in a riding accident; his son falls out of a window. Fortunately, he consulted Miss Silver before he died…

Pilgrim’s Rest is solid, bland, and rather dull. The reader should spot the reason for the deaths fairly easily, and confidently name the culprit. Wentworth lets the reader think himself cleverer than he really is: that suspect soon tumbles out a window. But the work is oddly structured: the murderer is disclosed 40 or 50 pages before the end, so the book trickles to its close, with an abduction and car chase thrown in to make the ending look lively.

At least Maud Silver is a better sleuth than Jane Marple; she might not be such an archetypal figure, but she’s a better detective; she’s more logical, less dithery, and discusses evidence rationally.


1948 Hodder & Stoughton

Miss Maud Silver’s first contact with the Pilgrim Case occurred when two deaths in one family had gone unsolved and a third member was very actively threatened. As that third member, Major Pilgrim, told her, nothing had been proved, odd as the circumstances were. There was no real evidence of murder, nothing the police could take any notice of. There was, too, the absurd point that these happenings fitted in so neatly with the local superstition about the old house, Pilgrim’s Rest, being sold out of the family. And so the Major felt apologetic about approaching even this mild-seeming old lady, so busy with her knitting.

But if Major Pilgrim had known this remarkable ex-governess as readers know her, he would have realized right away that she was the last person in the world to let so strange a matter rest there.

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