Author Mary Stewart
Linda Martin has just arrived in Paris from London where she’s been for the last seven years in an orphanage. After a brief teaching gig at a school for boys, Linda has been hired by the illustrious de Valmy family to commence as governess of young Phillip, heir to the family fortune. I mean this description just begs a mystery, doesn’t it? We are introduced to Heloise first, the second wife of Leon de Valmy, she’s young and beautiful with a nervous air about her. Leon is a lion caged in a wheelchair, he’s moody and calculating at every step, Linda is awed and wary of him as is the reader. Raoul was a surprising late comer to the story, a couple of chapters in we meet the 30 year old first son of Leon from his first wife; Phillip is his younger cousin but son to Leon’s elder brother and wife who have passed away. Rounding out the central cast of characters is William, a young Englishman conducting research in the local village and surrounds but not one with any connection to the de Valmy family.
I picked this book up because I adore Agatha Christie mysteries and while leaving a review for one of her fantastic books, Mary Stewart’s mysteries were listed as an esteemed recommendation. I’ve previously read The Crystal Cave by Stewart and found it a chore to get through. Nine Coaches Waiting is supposed to be the quintessential gothic-romance novel, it did not disappoint me at all, instead I was surprised at how well the story holds up over 60 years after its period of intent. Written and set in the 1950s, the character detail and continuously building story depth kept me reading well into the night to finish this book. Particularly surprising was Linda and the intelligence and strength she is afforded, especially as a female lead in the 1950s. No swooning here and some of the risks she takes were nail biting.
Brilliant mystery with a hint of romance. I understand now why she’s the quintessential whodunnit writer, I was on the edge of my seat till the last few pages.