Mrs Mair hoped that he had a secretary and presented him with a paper-knife. It was a thin silver affair, very tarnished, with a thistle head made of amethyst. When he pointed out that the thing was hall-marked and of some value nowadays and that he could not accept expensive presents from strange women, she said:
‘Mr Grant, that thing has been in my shop for twenty-five years. It was made for the souvenir trade in the days when people could read. Now they just look and listen. You’re the first person I’ve met in a quarter of a century that needed a paper-knife.
The mystery angle is not strong in this one. Indeed, the mystery is really secondary to Grant's personal story in this book, and I don't mind it at all. Grant's experiences of and on the island alone were worth the book, and much like Wentworth's writing in Ladies' Bane, I am reminded of the atmosphere in some old black and white Powell and Pressburger film.