First Sentence: In the first place, I suppose, it was my parent’s fault for giving me a silly name like Gianetta.
model Gianetta follows the suggestion of her parents and heads to the
Isle of Sky for a restful vacation. Those plans did not include finding
her ex-husband, Nicholas Drury, at the same hotel. Nor did they
include learning a local girl had recently been murdered and left in a
way that suggests a ritual. But the killer isn’t done. Can Gianetta
avoid becoming a victim?
Told in first person, past tense,
Stewart’s character both provides us with comprehensive information as
to her background, and makes the reader welcome into her story. Stewart
makes her protagonist very approachable and rather self-deprecating; a
lovely trait considering Gianetta’s profession.
With the same
clarity of writing, we also know the other characters in the story
through their descriptions, mannerisms and speech. It’s nice that she
included both certain character’s dialects and Gaelic phrases. What is
particularly clever is the use of one of the characters, actress Marcia,
who, smoothly and naturally, introduces many of the other characters to
both us and to Gianetta.
It’s the small touches that make the
time and setting come to life, such as remembering that this was an age
when most people smoked, or that some placed still used dip-pens. There
were also delightfully British turns-of-phrase…”She wasn’t just hit or
stabbed or choked in a fit of human passion. She was deliberately done
to death…” At the same time, there are ideas from then that still hold
true…”Don’t you know yet that there’s no room for pride in marriage?
You have to choose between the two.”…and the age old question of the
limits of loyalty. Her descriptions of place are evocative…”And, locked
in the great arms of the mountains, the water lay quiet as a burnished
shield, reflecting the deeper blue and deeper gold the pageantry of hill
Although traditionally regarded as "romantic
suspense"--I suspect by the men who ran publishing companies--the
emphasis is much more on the mystery than on romance. While there is a
touch of romance done in classic 50’s fashion of conversations not
shared with the audience, and activities taking place behind closed
doors, they story is, at its heart with excellent red herrings and
plenty of suspense, an exciting climax and a wonderful ending.
“Wildfire at Midnight” is one of those wonderful books that doesn’t grow old or
passé. A traditional suspense that
is as wonderful a read today as it was when first published. Ms.
Stewart deserves to be considered among the classic authors.
WILDFIRE AT MIDNIGHT (Sups-Gianetta Brooke Drury-Scotland-Contemp) - VG
Stewart, Mary – Standalone
William Morrow and Company – 1956