‘The third ‘Little Wychwell Mystery’, following ‘Did Anyone Die?’ and ‘A Very Quiet Guest’.
Priscilla becomes the temporary and unwilling landlady of Walls, Barnabus’ playboy friend. Shortly afterwards Antholian (Tony), Boris the Great Dane, Priscilla and Walls all accidentally become involved in an Undercover Operation.
Those who have been wondering about when they will encounter Charles, Priscilla’s elusive husband, and Felicity, Walls’ similarly absent fiancée, in person will be glad to hear that this is the book in which they both finally appear.’
Classics scholar Priscilla has a pleasant couple of weeks proofreading her latest book planned, but all is thrown into disarray when she becomes landlady to Walls, a young academic in hiding from his fiancée. Add another guest in the form of Priscilla’s friend Elodea’s dog Pippy, and an unfortunate misunderstanding over a silver Buddha, and it’s not long before Priscilla and Walls end up involved in Secret Service activities. It looks like Priscilla will have very little time for her work!
“All That Glisters Is Not Silver’ is the third in Stella Stafford’s ‘Little Wychwell Mystery’ series; a series that I’m very fond of. The series centres around two middle-aged women, Priscilla and Elodea, who are the first to admit that they make an unlikely pair! Priscilla teaches Classics at Oxford University, whilst Elodea spends her days fussing over her dog, Pippy, her often absent husband, and her four grown-up children. This duo find themselves drawn into many frankly bizarre, and hilarious situations, often accompanied by Pippy and at least one of Elodea’s children.
I have to admit that I was more than a little disappointed to discover that two of my absolute favourite ‘Little Wychwell’ characters, Elodea and her son Barnabus, are absent for most of the action and actually hardly appear in this story! However, I did enjoy the addition of some new protagonists, and the lovely Walls almost made up for me not getting my required dose of Barnabus.
A keen, if not very talented, Latin scholar myself, I love Priscilla’s quotations, she seems to have one to fit any occasion, and they add a really individual touch to the series. I do feel for poor put-upon Priscilla, who frequently finds herself in situations she’d rather not be in thanks to her association with Elodea, her mad family and their friends.
I suppose it’s not absolutely essential to read the previous two volumes before starting this story, but I would thoroughly recommend doing so – you get so much more from the characters if you’ve followed them from the very beginning, especially since frequent references are made to their previous adventures.
I found Priscilla and Co’s latest escapades absolutely delightful. Perhaps Stafford’s stories aren’t the most polished of books, but they are hugely entertaining and charming, with extremely appealing characters and I will certainly continue reading further volumes by the author.
‘Following the events in "Did Anyone Die?" Elodea, Barnabus, Priscilla and Angel are launched unwillingly on another crime trail. Elodea is in danger from an unknown assassin. Who can it be and why are they trying to kill her? Is it Ustin, back from the dead? Do the local jackdaws hold the clue? Are Elodea's other children involved in the mystery? This book should also answer all the trailing queries that the observant reader still held at the end of "Did Anyone Die?"’
The second in the Little Wychwell series, ‘A Very Quiet Guest’, picks up the loose ends from Stella Stafford’s debut, ‘Did Anyone Die?’. Set in a fictional Oxfordshire village, the novels follow the exploits of old friends Priscilla and Elodea, and Elodea’s son, Barnabus, as their lives are thrown into turmoil by several rather unsavoury events.
‘A Very Quiet Guest’ begins with Elodea’s life being threatened by an unknown assassin. Of course this doesn’t really put her off her beloved baking or fussing over everyone else, but it’s enough for Barnabus to leap into investigative action, dragging his new girlfriend, Angel, and his much put upon Aunt Prissy (Priscilla) along for the ride.
As anybody who’s read my review of ‘Did Anyone Die?’ must be aware, I’m a firm fan of the Little Wychwell series. Stafford has created a delightfully entertaining cast, whom I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet again. I loved that Elodea had more of a leading role in this episode: in fact she has her life threatened several times and generally has a very exciting time of things. By contrast, in ‘Did Anyone Die?’ she’s out of most of the action and is a little overshadowed by the comedy duo of Priscilla and the wonderful Barnabus. And on the subject of Barnabus, I have a small confession to make: I may be developing the teeny tiniest crush - he’s just so heroic and is a true master when it comes to dealing with Priscilla – the poor woman really doesn’t stand a chance against his relentless charm offensive.
There were a couple of moments where I thought the conversational style could have done with slightly tighter editing – just to make it sound completely realistic. Very small adjustments (such as ‘it’s’ instead of ‘it is’) would have made it flow even better. But this minor point did not spoil the overall enjoyment of the story for me.
‘A Very Quiet Guest’ is light, funny and immensely engaging, though I would recommend that readers begin with the first in the series to get the most out of this book. Stella Stafford’s writing is original and clever, and her storylines are well-thought out. I adore her delightful set of protagonists, who bump along together fantastically, and had me grinning happily throughout. I eagerly await the next instalment of this series.
'A missing wheelie bin, a gunfight with no bodies, and a carrier bagful of groceries are the ingredients that make up this romping, ultra-English, murder mystery tale. Our heroes are two old college friends, each equally batty in their own way. Together they must solve the mystery in Little Wychwell...in between coffee mornings, rowing practice and the imminent arrival of a bouncing baby.'
Classics scholar Priscilla adores her life teaching at an Oxford University college. Her existence is ordered and uncluttered, giving her plenty of time for what matters most – work. However, Priscilla’s world is thrown into disarray when her friend Elodea has to go away suddenly, leaving Priscilla stuck at Elodea’s house in the village of Little Wychwell in charge of a Yorkshire terrier called Pippy, after church refreshments, and a rather large and smelly pig.
To make matters worse Priscilla soon finds herself embroiled in a bizarre mystery involving a dead body, a wheelie bin, a pig sty and some discarded Tesco carrier bags. Aiding in her investigations (when he’s not getting Prisilla to drive him to early morning rowing practice) is Elodea’s son Barnabus, a young man keen on adventure who knows exactly how to handle his ‘Aunt Prissy’ and her funny little ways.
Barnabus’ persuasive tactics were pure genius, I loved the way he managed to wind Priscilla right round his little finger, getting her to do things she’d never normally dream of agreeing to with just a few well chosen compliments and perhaps a grin thrown in for good measure. Barnabus and Priscilla made an unusual, but brilliant pairing. Their detective skills weren’t quite up to those of Hercule Poirot, and much of their success was more down to pure luck than anything else, but their endeavours were certainly very amusing.
The description of the Sunday sermon at the village church was almost painfully funny, particularly when Priscilla attempts to make a quiet early exit. The service made a wonderful platform to showcase some of the many eccentrics the village had to offer, and I loved them all, especially the Horace quoting vicar.
The murder mystery itself was inventive and certainly kept me guessing, although it did come together a little too quickly towards the end of the book for my liking. There weren’t really enough early hints as to the culprit, meaning I didn’t get a chance to speculate as much as I’d have liked to.
‘Did Anyone Die?’ was a brilliantly English romp; the only thing missing was the Famous Five’s obligatory lashings of ginger beer. Stafford has produced a work that I found completely charming, a murder mystery of the most civilised sort, with plenty of stops for rowing practice and cake, and without too many of those pesky police officers getting in the way of the fun!