12 April 2012

The Widow's Revenge by Shirley Blane

As much as Mrs Portly incensed those around her, her grotesque character inflamed this reader too. It’s not very often I want to punch a fictional character (real ones, yes). But Mrs Portly, the widow of the title, is that character. Author Shirley Blane may have created a veritable monster, but this is no horror story.

The unexpected death of her boss and former lover, Cecil Portly, leaves Serena Grafton with more than a few headaches, not least keeping Portly Properties afloat.

Confronted with embezzlement, blackmail, arson, theft and murder it would be easy to wonder how Serena could ever succeed. As the story develops Serena could almost have become smug – was there nothing she couldn’t do? But thankfully Shirley Blane allows the reader into Serena’s psyche and we understand that whilst she appears a tough cookie, she’s just as insecure as we all are.

As incredible as the story became I never considered it incredulous. Of course Serena didn’t do battle alone. Help came in the form of a detective inspector and it was Dan Perks who provided more than just the strong arm of the law for her to lean on.

In any novel the characters must be allowed to grow and it was the boss’s son, Bobby Portly, who evolved the most. From wimpish mummy’s boy he gained the confidence to confront his past and become the man he always wanted to be.

Shirley Blane’s novel is a saga of twists and turns. It would be exhausting to sustain the suspense throughout. Thankfully there’s a good balance of low-key action which is subtly used to give the reader a chance to catch their breath.

A sequel is already under way and I will be first in the queue to read it.

The Widow’s Revenge is available to download at Amazon: 
The Widow's Revenge