Around the same time that Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple was making her debut in the short story “The Tuesday Night Club,” another English writer was turning her hand to mystery, in the form of Miss Silver, a retired governess with a fondness for knitting, the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson, and of course, solving whodunits.
Patricia Wentworth was born Dora Amy Elles in British India in 1877. By 1910 she had published her first novel, A Marriage Under the Terror, a romance set during the French Revolution that would win her the Melrose prize. But after publishing over 15 romance novels, Wentworth was ready for something new.
In 1928, the aforementioned Miss Maud Silver appeared in 1928’s Grey Mask. Wentworth would go on to write 32 novels featuring the adventures of Miss Silver. In reflecting on the enormous popularity of Christie’s Miss Marple, authors Marion Shaw and Sabine Vanacker wrote, “While Miss Marple may receive 10 times the attention as Miss Silver … the woefully neglected Miss Silver is the real deal—a professional investigator and a stand-up woman, a true forerunner of all future female private eyes.”
The Miss Silver series isn’t the only series die-hard cozy mystery fans can devour. Wentworth also left us with the Benbow Smith series and Frank Garrett series, spy novels that anticipated the work of Ian Fleming and John le Carré, the Ernest Lamb Mysteries, of Scotland Yard, not to mention 34 other standalone novels. Deduce which Wentworth series is the best fit for you … or read all four!
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Miss Silver Mysteries
Thanks to her harmless cover as a retired governess with a passion for knitting, Miss Silver is able to seamlessly weave her way through the British upper crust to discover who’s behind the mystery at the center of each of her 32 novels. In these cozy mysteries, Miss Silver’s unassuming front conceals a sharp detective who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of family disputes, wrongful convictions, stalking, blackmail, mistaken identity, and more. Like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Miss Silver proves that the best person for the case may be the retired elderly lady with enough life experience to have seen it all.
Included in the Miss Silver Mysteries
Frank Garrett Mysteries
During WWII, the foreign office was often the last resort to learning the fate of lost loved ones, soldiers—or spies working for the Allies on the other side. As a member of the FO, Frank Garnett knows that nothing is black and white, but is determined to find the truth, no matter the danger. In Dead or Alive, the widow of a British spy is convinced her husband is still alive, and in Rolling Stone Garnett must assume the identity of a dead conman to try to infiltrate a bevy of thugs. No matter the mystery, Frank Garnett is a man who works tirelessly to see justice prevail.
Included in the Frank Garrett Series
Ernest Lamb Mysteries
Scotland Yard inspector Ernest Lamb would tell you that the most difficult crimes to solve are those that fester in the dark history of family disputes. Whether it’s a disputed inheritor turning up dead, supposedly a suicide, or the high-stakes game of concealed identity during WWII, Lamb isn’t afraid of entering the dark side of human nature. For those who love a darker mystery, Ernest Lamb is the inspector for you.
Included in the Ernest Lamb Series
Benbow Smith Mysteries
If Frank Garrett is the official face of the Foreign Office, Benbow Smith is its man behind the scenes, pulling all the strings. Written during the outbreak of the Second World War, the Benbow Smith novels are a thrilling mixture of espionage and noir. In the high stakes game of nation building (and destroying), Smith is a precursor to James Bond—a man who knows that in the end, for justice to prevail, sometimes you have to bend the rules.
Included in the Benbow Smith Series