Edwin Denby •
Mrs. W’s Last Sandwich
(also published as Scream in a Cave) •
Edwin Denby, a noted dance critic, wrote only one novel in his life. And it’s sheer delight, from the whimsical title to the unusual setting—the Mediterranean isle of Mallorca, land of olives and almonds, where “nothing ever happens.”
A beautiful girl happens, to start with. Also a prophetic dream, a runaway bull, a stolen inheritance, and an elderly lady who goes in for spelunking while dressed in her proper black hat and gloves.
And that’s just in the first chapter. Denby piles it on—Middle Eastern royalty, local legends, illegal narcotics, secret passageways, a terrier named Shakespeare—yet the story is anything but predictable. The writing flows; the suspense mounts; the sandwich gets eaten.
Here’s Mrs. W confronting a band of dangerous smugglers. “Mrs. Weeks had the feeling she was playing pirate with her youngest relatives. ‘Dear, dear,’ she said, looking very concerned, ‘it’s awfully kind of you to warn me, I don’t want to be killed at all. You must advise me. What shall I do?’ Like her young relatives, they were softened by her helplessness. . . . And then Mrs. Weeks, in her smart black hat and gloves, was left alone with twenty drinking smugglers who began asking her politely where she was from, whether she was married, and how many children she had.”
You may have to do some spelunking of your own to find a copy of this, but you’ll be glad you did.