tirsdag den 21. juli 2009

Mary Stewart, Wildfire at Midnight (1956)


Mary Stewart was born in England, but lived in Scotland for many years. This novel, a stand-alone which is her second, takes place on the isle of Skye (which explains why I selected this one among the many novels written by her in our cottage).

The narrator is Gianetta Brooke who ´hit London´ in 1945, nineteen years old, having trained as a model. Here she meets the author Nicholas Drury and marries him three months later. She adores him while he thinks she is sophisticated. They try to make their marriage work for a few years, but when she discovers his unfaithfulness they quarrel and divorce in 1949.

In 1953 Gianetta needs a break from London and the coronation. She goes to Skye where Blaven, the Blue Mountain, casts its shadow over the valley. At the hotel she meets actress Marcia Maling, her ex-husband and a few other guests. Gianetta does not understand why no one wants to talk about Blaven until a male guest tells her that a young, local girl was murdered there a few weeks ago (a horrible, ritual murder). Presumably she had a date with one of the male guests of the hotel, making it a locked-room mystery.

A few days after Gianetta´s arrival, two young women go climbing Blaven (perhaps together with a male climber) but do not return. One of them has been murdered – but where is the other one?

A fine novel which seems much more modern than Allingham´s stories though it was written in the same decade, and by an author who was only twelve years younger. More suspense & drama, more real and convincing characters. And this is NOT a cozy mystery.

Mary Stewart, Vinden varsler (1957)
Mary Stewart blev født i England, men boede i Skotland i mange år. Denne roman er hendes anden, men den første som er oversat til dansk. Handlingen foregår på den skotske ø Skye, og det er selvfølgelig derfor, jeg udvalgte netop denne Mary Stewart ud af den lange række på hylderne i vores feriehytte.

Fortælleren er Gianetta Brooke, en nyuddannet, nittenårig fotomodel, som er klar til at male London rød i 1945. Her møder hun forfatteren Nicholas Drury og gifter sig med ham tre måneder senere. Hun tilbeder ham, han tror, hun er smart og sofistikeret. I flere år prøver de at få ægteskabet til at fungere, men da hun opdager, at han er hende utro, ender det hele i skænderier og skilsmisse i 1949.

I 1953 trænger Gianetta hårdt til en pause fra modelarbejdet i London og alt postyret omkring Dronning Elizabeths kroning. Hun rejser til øen Skye hvor Blaven, det Blå Bjerg, kaster sin mørke skygge over dalen. På hotellet møder hun skuespilleren Marcia maling, sin eksmand og en håndfuld andre gæster. Gianetta kan ikke forstå, at ingen bryder sig om at tale om Blaven, før en mandlig gæst røber at en lokal ung pige blev myrdet der nogle uger tidligere (et rituelt drab). Den unge pige skulle sandsynligvis møde en af gæsterne på hotellet, så bogen er altså en form for lukket rums mysterium.

Nogle få dage efter Gianettas ankomst tager to unge kvinder ud for at klatre på Blaven (muligvis i selskab med en mand). Den ene af dem bliver myrdet – men hvad er der blevet af den anden?

En fin krimi, som virker langt mere moderne end Margary Allinghams, selv om den er skrevet i samme årti, af en forfatter som kun var tolv år yngre. Der er mere spænding og drama, samt mere realistiske og overbevisende personer.

8 kommentarer:

R. T. sagde ...

You mention another "discovery" in Mary Stewart's novel, which suggests you must have a wonderful treasure trove of excellent books in your cottage. I assume this is not your "normal" home but is a vacation home. Am I correct? In any event, with no malice intended in the attitude, I am envious on two levels: great books and great vacation.

bookwitch sagde ...

I love this book! Love most of Mary Stewart's books, in fact, although it's been a while since I read them. Lots of attractive men in Stewart's novels.

(I think, Dorte, that 'mannequin' is only applicable to those stiff dolls in shop windows...)

Dorte H sagde ...

R.T., it was a great vacation in a great cottage in Scotland (see my post "Crime Lovers´ Paradise" of July 13th). More than 300 crime novels in all, and I didn´t even know what kind of place my husband had rented! I only had time to read four of them, however, as we went to Scotland to enjoy the wonderful surroundings.
You´ll just have to rent Grigadale House, Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan peninsula in Scotland for your holidays LOL.

Dorte H sagde ...

Ann, this is my first Mary Stewart, but it was definitely the best of the four I found in Scotland. Well, actually I read another one by her. By accident I picked a romance - something I hardly ever read - and I enjoyed that one quite a bit also.

You are probably right about mannequin, but I think it said in the book that she went to ´mannequin school´ in London. Thanks for telling me, though - usually my readers don´t ;)

R. T. sagde ...

Dorte, you might also enjoy Mary Stewart's historical fiction series featuring Merlin and the Arthurian legend.

Ms. Bookish sagde ...

I never knew Mary Stewart wrote mysteries! I've only ever read her Merlin books - it was a while back, when I was a teenager, but I remember enjoying them very much. This one sounds like a mystery I'd enjoy.

marco sagde ...

I knew of her Merlin series, but I didn't know she also wrote mysteries.

Dorte H sagde ...

R.T., I might try them, but crime is my favourite genre so as long as I haven´t read all her crime novels ... :D

Belle, I really think you should try her.

Marco, she certainly did, and as I said, though they are from the 50s, they have a much more modern flavour than Allingham´s.