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Chinese Shawl [Paperback]

Patricia Wentworth


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Book Description

Nov. 1 1989
Tanis Lyle was one of those passionate women who always get their own way. Her cousin Laura hated her. Most women did. But men found her irresistible and she used them mercilessly. So when Tanis was found murdered there seemed to be any number of suspects on hand. But Miss Silver had her own suspicions ...

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Review

A particular favourite Andrew Taylor A particular favourite Andrew Taylor Miss Silver is marvellous Daily Mail ... some of the best examples of the British country-house murder mystery Alfred Hitchcock magazine Miss Silver has her place in detective fiction as surely as Lord Peter Wimsey or Hercule Poirot Manchester Evening News Miss Wentworth is a first rate story-teller Daily Telegraph You can't go wrong with Miss Maud Silver Observer Miss Wentworth's plot is ingenious, her characterization acute, her solution satisfying The Scotsman Patricia Wentworth has created a great detective in Miss Silver, the little old lady who nobody notices, but who in turn notices everything Paula Gosling

About the Author

Patricia Wentworth was born in India and after writing several romances turned her hand to crime. She wrote dozens of bestselling mysteries and was recognised as one of the mistresses of classic crime. She died in the late Sixties.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  51 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She picked up the shawl, and minutes later she was dead. Dec 23 2001
By John Austin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
By the time you have read the first half of this 1943 murder mystery, you will know that Tanis Lyle is a beautiful young woman who has many enemies. When the butler then discovers Tanis's body, and the "small round hole in the silk of her coat a little below the left shoulder-blade", you will suspect that one of them has murdered her. You could be wrong! Miss Maud Silver, eccentric in dress and quaint in manner, will eventually be able to explain why.
Patricia Wentworth, like several other female British crime writers of her generation, contributed to the so-called "War Effort" in the early 1940s by increasing her production of the sort of murder mysteries that provided cosy, escapist relaxation. This one is a successful blend of her usual ingredients: romance, relationships, family dynamics crossing several generations, a murder or two, Miss Maud Silver as sleuth, and lots of dialogue.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AN ENJOYABLE ENGLISH COUNTRY HOUSE MYSTERY... April 2 2013
By Lawyeraau - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Set during World War II, this is a wonderfully nostalgic mystery. When country mouse Laura Fane turns twenty-one, she comes into a sizable inheritance and travels to war torn London to meet with her solicitors. While there, she makes the acquaintance of her cousin, Tanis Lyle, a vibrant, charming temptress who specializes in other women's boyfriends. They had never before met due to a long standing family feud. She also meets a friend of Tanis, Casey Desborough, a Royal Air Force pilot, and they fall in love.

Tanis invites Laura to stay at the Priory, the Fane family estate, which Laura has inherited but is on a long term lease to Agnes Fane, a lease which is about to run its course. It seems that Laura's father had once been engaged to Agnes, who was his cousin, but broke it off when he met Laura's mother. Hence, the long familial estrangement between the two families began. Now, it seems, Agnes Fane wishes to buy the Priory and bequeath it to Tanis, but Laura is not inclined to do so.

When Laura arrives at the Priory, she is among any number of guests, including, Casey. Unfortunately, Aunt Agnes is under the mistaken belief that Tanis and Casey are engaged, and views Laura as an interloper in the path of true love, just as Laura's mother once was. So, when Tanis is murdered, suspects and motivations abound. As luck would have it, Miss Maud Silver, a retired governess turned private enquiry agent, is also a house guest at the Priory, there on another matter. So, she is Johnny on the spot to assist the police.

This is an enjoyable English country house mystery that takes place in wartime Britain. The house is filled with interesting, quirky characters, anyone of whom could have a motive for murder. The plot is well-crafted and the story is well-written and fully developed. Miss Silver is an interesting character, an astute observer able to discern the dark side of human nature where it lurks. Those readers who enjoy English country house mysteries will find this one quite worthy of their time.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I didnt put this one down. July 22 2010
By moonbeamie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My Great Aunt introduced me to Miss Silver, the Tennyson loving former governess. I have to admit the title intrigued me enough to take it up. It is a hard novel to predict and is set in a very interesting place. If you are like me and like to escape in a proper English mystery, this novel is for you.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love affairs gone wrong = conflicting motives for murder May 5 2002
By Michele L. Worley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This case strays from what I think of as the usual Silver format, in that private enquiry agent Maud Silver isn't brought in during the 2nd or 3rd chapter by one of the sympathetic young lovers who generally turn up in her cases. Instead, she appears after a few chapters of character development spelling out quite clearly just how many people - both would-be lovers and *their* discarded partners - have a motive to kill Tanis Lyle, and Maudie's already engaged in a separate case - a matter of petty thefts from Tanis' wealthy guardian Agnes, who then extends the engagement to cover the murder investigation. (Agnes and her cousin Lucy are old acquaintances of Maud's school days, although they were never close, so she's actually staying with the client rather than a separate old school chum for once.) However, in this instance the flexing of the bonds of the Silver format does no harm; a very pleasant read as either a novel or a puzzle, if you like mysteries spiced with other human problems.
As in a later case, _Through the Wall_, at least two potential murder victims bear a strong enough likeness that when one is killed at night while wearing some of the other's clothing, there's some question as to which was the intended victim. Another similarity is that one is the (apparently) morally worthy heiress, the other a femme fatale, although in a much more drastic contrast than in the later book, where the femme fatale is a (somewhat) more sympathetic character. Motive won't help sort this one out - anybody who didn't have a motive to kill Tanis Lyle did have a motive to kill Laura Fane, and vice versa.
Laura Fane, as the sole surviving member of the senior branch of the family, holds title to the family estate - the Priory - but the next branch of the family has leased it for many years, since they had the money to keep it up, so cousin Agnes has lived there all her life. Jilted by Laura's father, then partly paralyzed by a riding accident, she's devoted herself to 3 things: nursing her grudge against Laura's long-dead parents, maintaining the Priory, and raising her orphaned young cousin Tanis Lyle. Agnes wants to buy the Priory outright, and to persuade Tanis (via her control of the pursestrings) to settle down and raise her son (currently parked with her ex's family), but Tanis prefers proving in wartime London that the enemy isn't the only destroyer of good men - or relationships.
Laura, on the other hand, while bearing a physical likeness to Tanis, is leavened with the milk of human kindness rather than a taste for cat-and-mouse games with men - or their partners' jealousy. But when she and one of Tanis' recent discards - a decent sort with a Distinguished Flying Cross, recovering from injuries that grounded him with temporarily messed-up depth perception - begin falling in love, Tanis arranges matters so that "the aunts" will be sure to raise Cain, seeing Laura as "stealing" Tanis' man, just as Laura's father jilted Agnes for another woman. When one of the girls is shot in the middle of the night, which was the intended victim?
Since the Priory is in Ledshire, Randall Marsh - superintendent and Miss Silver's favourite former pupil - is in charge of the official investigation. (He wryly comments that he's the only member of the family who's *not* in the Army - and he's the only male in his generation.)
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miss Silver Figures it out again! Aug. 15 2004
By S. Schwartz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In this book, Miss Silver is at a country priory that is the residence of Agnes Faine and her sister. She is there at Miss Faine's request to determine the cause of some thefts and finds herself in the middle of a family feud. As usual we get to see Miss Silver's keen mind at work as she solves the crime. No one does English country manor mysteries like Ms. Wentworth did. She has the genre pretty well sewn up, I think. In this one the long-standing family feud makes for a long list of suspects when a body is found at the bottom of a staircase.

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