Wildfire at midnight

After a thoroughly yeuch month I turned to one of my very favourite comfort-authors, the ever enthralling Mary Stewart. Mary Stewart specialised in the "woman-in-danger" type thriller. Woman (slightly pathetic but surprisingly feisty) finds herself by chance in an exotic location and embroiled in a dangerous situation. Hero usually comes to the rescue, but often only just in the nick of time.

Yes, it sounds trite, and it goes against nearly all of my feminist instincts. I like to believe that I could find my way out of any situation without needing to be rescued. But after the month I've had a bit of rescuing would be very nice indeed, thank you very much, hence I think why Mary Stewart can be a very present help in time of trouble...

I first read Wildfire at midnight some years ago; and seem to remember that I wasn't too impressed. It didn't seem one of her better books. And lovely as the Isle of Skye is, it's hardly the exotic location that Stewart normally sets her thrillers in. However I must say that on re-reading this I loved it. It is one of her better books. Giannetta Drury decides to go to the Isle of Skye in Coronation week (so topical too - just a few weeks after the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Elizabeth II) to get away from the London crowds. On arrival there she discovers to her dismay that her ex-husband is also paying a trip to the lovely island; but worse than that there's a murderer on the loose, and it's someone she knows.

Stewart is expert at ratcheting up the suspense. Characterisation as ever is not brilliant, and the novel is very much a period piece with characters smoking left, right and centre, and the social mores very much of their day but to be honest this actually adds to the delight of the novel. Although I don't think anyone will be terribly surprised to discover who's the murderer, s/he is well portrayed. And Skye itself is portrayed beautifully.

This may not be great literature but as a quick fix away from reality this takes a bit of beating. Highly recommended. I do love Mary Stewart.


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