Henry is seeing his sister Kate off on her voyage to visit her daughter and baby grandson in Buenos Aires.
“My brother Henry saw me off – with reproaches.
Why, he asked, couldn’t I have waited? Why dash off like that in the middle of December? Why not wait and enjoy a quiet Christmas at home?
‘He’s my first grandchild; I want to take a look at him,’ I said, and forebore to point out that last Christmas – the first since my two children had married and gone abroad – had been very quiet indeed, and I hadn’t enjoyed it at all.”
Henry is stuffy, staid, practical, and a little overpowering. He doesn’t mince words when it comes to his opinion of his empty-headed, impractical and impulsive sister Kate.
“That was Henry: ponder, plan and perform. I’ve never understood how two people as completely different as Henry and I could have been born of the same pair of parents. I don’t ponder, I rarely plan and if I do perform, it’s in a haphazard sort of way. We’ve only got, I think, one thing in common, and that’s a sense of duty, but our ideas of what constitutes duty are widely, wildly opposed.”
However, all is not lost, as the reader finds that Kate Verney actually does have a little backbone. Pushed to the limit, Kate finally tells Henry off, just before her train leaves.
But Kate’s life is about to change dramatically. In this fast-paced, entertaining book, Kate will never arrive (at least for the reader), in Buenos Aires. As she makes friends on the voyage with two young siblings, she finds herself needed, appreciated, and compelled to function in ways she had never dreamed of. We find that Kate Verney is *not* the brainless, thoughtless frump that her brother Henry likes to think her (and as Henry only appears in the initial chapter of this story, the reader is not sorry to see the last of him). Even when her passport is missing and she is reluctantly propelled into a murder mystery, we learn that the apologetic, unassuming Kate Verney will eventually surprise us all and come into her own.
However, Kate Verney is not the only character full of surprises in this light cosy read. Besides Kate’s two young friends, Rex and his sister Lindy, there is the arrogant Mr. Barron their father, his trusted friend Alec, the mysterious but capable Neil Harper, Athena, who takes Kate in hand to ‘improve’ her appearance, and the puzzling Fernando and Sylvana Cunha.
After a spate of reading classics and wartime fiction (much as I enjoyed them), I felt like I needed something light and entertaining to read, and Elizabeth Cadell fits the bill! I hadn’t read Cadell in quite some time, but this novel reminded me that her characters are witty, full of surprises, and fun.
Almost without the reader realizing it, the author ties up all the loose ends, solves the mystery, and gives a happy ending. What more could anyone ask for?
A clever, well-done mystery with plenty of intrigue,a little bit of romance, a dash of atmosphere, and some engaging characters.