Every once in a while I pick an older book to read and I've been enjoying Mary Stewart's books quite a bit. Some are better than others, but I just really enjoy them in general and it's fun to visit the time period of the 50s and 60s.
Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Wildfire at Midnight was mostly a good read. It was just over two hundred pages but it felt longer than that, mainly because of all the description and some of the back and forth dialog that went nowhere. While I don't always mind the description in Mary Stewart's books, I did find it rather boring at times in this one. I didn't really care what the rocky cliffs and mountainous ranges looked like all that much. A one-time brief description would have sufficed. However here are a couple of photos of the Isle of Skye where the story takes place and it is visually stunning.
I also got bored with some of the needless conversation between characters that sometimes felt never ending. There were two whole pages dedicated to people wondering if a couple of others they were out searching for had been found after one man motioned for another to come have a look over the side of a cliff. There was also a lot of sitting around and chatting with nothing really going on, but at least there was some good information given about the characters that way. It just went on a little too long.
Like all of Stewart's books this is a romantic suspense. I felt like the romance was really underplayed here, but at least there was no instalove. I also would really like to know what all led up to Gianetta's divorce as we as readers are left guessing a lot about what happened and only given some minute details. (view spoiler)[ Why after four years is Gianetta still in love with her ex husband and he with her? Especially after it seems that it ended rather badly and what all did he do that he was apologizing so profusely for and that would make her think that he was possibly a murderer? I have to say I was a little bit bothered that she took him back so easily without wanting to talk about any of it. (hide spoiler)] I think the thing that bothered me the most about this book was how Gianetta responded to a woman about her husband cheating on her as though it was something that she just had to overlook if she wanted to keep her husband because those kind of things just happened. That mentality really irks me!
Mary Stewart could write some really edge of your seat suspenseful scenes and that's the number one reason I like her books and Wildfire at Midnight did not disappoint in that way. The parts when Gianetta was lost in the fog with the killer after her were the best, but the parts when she was sneaking around the hotel at night and looking after a character all night long that the police were protecting also kept me glued to the book. I can't say that I was surprised at who the killer turned out to be, I pretty much picked him out right away as the number one suspect, but there were times when Stewart made me second guess myself.
In the end I liked this book a lot and as far as my enjoyment of it went I rate it in the middle of the pack of Stewart's books. It's not one of my favorites, but it's loads better than the Stormy Petrel which is at the bottom for me and above Airs Above the Ground. It was hard to decide which one I liked better. The one thing Airs Above the Ground had going for it that this book doesn't is that I felt like the main character was a bit smarter and more resourceful. In this book Gianetta lost points with me for a fainting spell and not being able to bring herself to protect herself against someone who was going to kill her. In the end she had to be rescued which annoyed me, however this book was still more entertaining and suspenseful than Airs Above the Ground so it wins out.
So far this is how I'm ranking the Mary Stewart books I've read:
Nine Coaches Waiting
Madam Will You Talk?
Wildfire at Midnight
Airs Above the Ground
The Stormy Petrel
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