Original publication date: 1956
My edition: 2003 (Harper Torch)
How I acquired my copy: bought used at a local bookstore
Mary Stewart’s novels are always good comfort reads. There’s definitely a formula to them—they always take place in an exotic location, and feature a smart, somewhat skeptical heroince (who’s usually in her mid to late twenties). Throw in some romance and suspense, and you have the recipe for a really fun, atmospheric read. Wildfire at Midnight is no exception to this.
Giannetta Drury is a model, who decides to take a break from London to visit the Island of Skye, up in the Hebrides. She stays at a local hotel, but is perturbed when her ex husband, Nicholas, is also one of the guests there--ouch, how awkward! As Giannetta becomes more familiar with the other guests at the hotel, she learns the story of the murder of a young local girl, whose throat was brutally cut. But as events unfold, it turns out that the murderer hasn’t yet finished their work…
Wildfire at Midnight is more of a mystery than some of Mary Stewart’s other books, and the suspense is right up there as some of the best that she’s ever offered. There are several truly bone-chilling scenes in this novel, especially the one in the fog towards the end! I feel that character development is weaker here (for example, I felt that Dougal Macrae seemed rather undisturbed by the murder of his daughter, two and a half weeks prior to the events in the book). But I enjoyed the romance aspect—it’s there all along, though Giannetta doesn’t realize it until the end. Giannetta also seems to be less skeptical than some of Stewart’s other heroines, but that more or less works in her favor this time. Again, another strong novel from Mary Stewart.