Latter End (Miss Silver 11) by Patricia Wentworth

Repent at leisure…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Two cousins are attracted to Lois – Jimmy Latter, older, well established and with a large house; and Anthony, young, good-looking, but just starting out in life. For purely mercenary reasons Lois opts for Jimmy, and becomes the chatelaine of Latter End. But now she has inherited a fortune of her own and is rather bored with Jimmy, which is a shame since he worships her. Which is more than can be said for his large household of distantly connected relations and ancient retainers, who can’t stand Lois – a feeling that is mutual. Lois wants to run things her own way and the first thing she wants is to get rid of all these people – Jimmy’s two younger step-sisters, a woman he grew up with and views as a kind of surrogate sister (although her view of Jimmy is somewhat less platonic), old servants who have been around so long they have come to be treated almost as part of the family, and so on. And she has Jimmy wrapped round her little finger, so she can always persuade him that her plans to send all these people away to fend for themselves are made for their own benefit. So when Lois turns up dead, poisoned, the field of suspects is wide. Jimmy, however, fears he may have driven Lois to suicide, so begs Miss Silver to investigate, hoping she will prove that Lois was murdered…

Lois is that stalwart of vintage mysteries, one of the things that makes them so enjoyable – a truly unlikeable victim that neither characters nor readers feel much need to grieve over. True, Jimmy grieves, but only to an extent – even before Lois died his eyes had been opened to her true nature, so if he can only be assured that her death wasn’t his fault he’ll be able to get over her pretty easily. The rest of the characters are frankly overjoyed that she’s gone – their only concern is that they don’t want themselves or each other to be accused of the murder.

Book 11 of 20

Although Lois’ duplicity and manipulation undoubtedly make her ripe for murdering, in her defence I have to admit that she had a point about the hangers-on in the household. Only two of them, step-sister Julia and cousin Anthony, seem to feel that they should make their own way in life. All the rest seem quite happy to live eternally in Jimmy’s home and off his generosity. Jimmy is old-fashioned enough to think his new wife should meekly fit herself in to all the existing household routines and traditions. Lois is not that kind of woman! She wants to be mistress of her own home, especially once she finds that she is in fact wealthier than Jimmy. Wentworth was clearly less sympathetic to that attitude than I was, and anyway when we first meet Lois she is attempting to revive her rejected suitor’s love for her despite now being a Married Woman so I quite agreed she is a Bad Lot Who Deserves All She Gets!

Patricia Wentworth

I loved this one. Wentworth writes exceptionally well for this genre, and while she doesn’t quite compare to Christie in terms of plotting, she manages a similar mix of mystery, suspense, occasional humour and a touch of romance. Miss Silver is not unlike Miss Marple in that she uses her status as an elderly spinster to open up the world of gossip above and below stairs, while her long life and keen intuition allow her to judge when people are hiding secrets. Like Miss Marple, she works in tandem with the police who know her of old and have a grudging respect for her abilities. However, she’s also different enough to avoid feeling like a carbon copy of Miss Marple. Miss Silver is a professional investigator, who takes on investigations for financial reward, and she therefore has a businesslike efficiency in place of Miss Marple’s disguise of fluffy ditheriness and random village parallels. Both ladies knit, however! Google tells me they both first appeared in 1927, so if this is correct, clearly their similarities are entirely coincidental.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Diana Bishop, and she did an excellent job. She has recorded millions of the Miss Silvers (approximately), and I can see they are going to feature regularly in my future listening! Highly recommended, book and audiobook both.

Audible UK Link

32 thoughts on “Latter End (Miss Silver 11) by Patricia Wentworth

  1. I have read quite a few Miss Silver books, but not this one. Sounds like fun! Despite the murderous contexts, I do relish the mannerly approach of Miss Silver and Patricia Wentworth’s writing. I haven’t read any of the Miss Silvers via audiobook so I’ll have to look at my audio sources again and see if I can track any down.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read one of her non-Miss Silvers recently and thoroughly enjoyed it too, so I’m looking forward to investigating her further. I always like when an author includes a bit of humour and a touch of romance – modern crime tends to be far too grim to be entertaining! I hope you can find the audiobook. The narrator seems a perfect match for the style of the books – a bit old-fashioned, if you know what I mean.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I never read these reviews without thinking what a wonderful source of material they would be for Sunday night viewing adaptations, particularly for the more squeamish amongst us, a tad weary of biker torture scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so right! Much though I’m a huge fan of Agatha Christie, it’s a shame they just keep remaking her books again and again instead of exploring some of the other Golden Age authors, whose books would be just as much fun to adapt!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, based on your description of her I already had it in for Lois even before you said she turned up dead!
    Didn’t all women of that time knit? It’s a wonder more victims in books from that era weren’t stabbed by knitting needles.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one so well, FictionFan! I do like Miss Silver, and I sometimes think she’s quite overshadowed by Miss Marple for people who read those two authors. Wentworth did create some characters it’s fun to hate, didn’t she? And you make an interesting point about the hangers-on. You don’t see that as often in contemporary novels, or perhaps just not in the ones I’ve read. I’ll have to think about that…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think Miss Silver and Miss Marple are different enough despite their similarities to make it a pity that Miss Silver doesn’t get the same attention. I know Wentworth isn’t “forgotten” in quite the same way as some of the Golden-Agers but she really deserves to be more prominent, I think. Of the few I’ve read, I’d definitely rank her more highly than Allingham, and maybe even Marsh…

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s odd how some of these Golden Age authors are still well known but others, just as good, aren’t. Wentworth isn’t “forgotten” like some – her books are still widely available – but she deserves to be up there among the best! Hope you enjoy her if you get a chance to try her!


  5. This sounds delightful! A quick search at my digital library shows a few Miss Silver books, but alas, none on audio. That didn’t stop me from tagging one for future reference. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that’s a pity that they don’t have the audiobooks but I’m sure they’ll be just as much fun to read. I already have one on my TBR – a Kindle one – that’s actually on my CC list, so I’ll be bouncing back and forwards between reading these and listening to them, I think!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s odd why some of these Golden Age authors are better known than others. Wentworth isn’t quite “forgotten” like some of them – her books are still widely available – but she certainly doesn’t get the same attention as some of the others. In my opinion based on the few I’ve read so far, she’s one of the best!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, that’s why I love vintage crime more than contemporary crime – nine times out of ten the victim “deserves” it, so we can move happily on to the investigation with no need for grief… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I love the photo too. For some reason it makes me think of the women who went out to India in the Raj. I think it’s the parasol – not a thing we have much use for in Britain usually! 😉 I hope you enjoy her if you get round to trying her some time!

      Liked by 1 person

    • No one will ever equal Miss Marple, but Miss Silver has her own charms! And there are millions of them. 😀
      Anne, just to let you know your blog hasn’t let me leave comments on a couple of your recent posts – it just gives me an error message. It’s not happening elsewhere so I think the problem must be at your end. Hopefully it’ll resolve itself but I just thought I’d let you know in case you thought I was being rude!

      Liked by 1 person

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