|So, who do you think did it?|
Readers of Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver mysteries will know that the indomitable spinster sleuth uses a complex system of coughs to make subtle communications in the novels. Like the canny meerkats, who have over 30 different calls they use to communicate with each other, Miss Silver has different sorts of coughs to signal her thoughts to interlocutors.
Some find the Miss Silver's coughs odd, irritating or even concerning, and in her own day the author through her publisher felt obliged to pass along a message about them to worried Wentworth readers (note the author's archaic use of the word "affection," characteristic of Miss Silver's own speech):
To those readers who have so kindly concerned themselves about Miss Silver's health: Her occasional slight cough is merely a means of self-expression. It does not indicate any bronchial affection. She enjoys excellent health. P. W.
So do you know, or can you guess, how many times Miss Silver coughs in The Gazebo, recently reviewed by me here? To whomever first gets the exact number, or who gets closest to it, in a comment on this post or on my Facebook page by the end of January 10 I will be happy to send a copy of the new Hodder & Stoughton edition of The Benevent Treasure, the 26th Miss Silver mystery.
I will pay domestic media rate postage in the US, but anything international you will have to cover yourself. Hint: in my copy of The Gazebo Miss Silver first appears on page 62, and is in the book continuously from page 108, after the murder, up to the penultimate page, 291. (The last page is reserved for the lovers' embraces.)
Good luck, and watch that winter cough!