Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dead or Alive by Patricia Wentworth

Details: First published 1936; cover shown is the Warner Books (USA) 1992 paperback reissue. Cover art by Bob Scott. 232p.

Blurb: "Meg O'Hara had married a charming, handsome Irishman - who was also a spy - and she had no one to blame but herself when it didn't work out. But the same day she asked Robin for a divorce, he had disappeared. The foreign office insisted he was dead. So who had left her the newspaper with the letters I AM ALIVE circled in read... the maple leaf with ALIVE in pinpricks... and all the other frightening messages that made her both hope and fear that Robin had survived?

Only her old friend Bill Coverdale believed her. He said he'd get to the bottom of the mystery, not knowing that his and Meg's investigation was indeed spiralling down... right into the very depths of a shadowy world of secrets and deception, where knowing too much was... murder!"

Verdict: This is only the second Wentworth I've read that hasn't been part of the Miss Silver series. It was quite far fetched in places - first, the maple leaf with pin pricks spelling the word ALIVE... how did Meg even notice that in the first place?! Then there's the elderly uncle being held prisoner on an island, Meg's own kidnapping, her amazing escape, and her even more amazing discovery by trusty Bill, who just happens to be exactly where he needs to be in a vast forest. Perhaps in the 1930s it was taken more seriously, but I just couldn't do that. It was still a lot of fun, and worth reading for the entertainment value alone.

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