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4.6 out of 5 stars39
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on 30 January 2013
Having read most of Mary Stewart's novels, and thoroughly enjoyed them all, I would rank Wildfire as one of her best. Set in the beautiful Isle of Skye, the author's descriptions make this northern Inner Hebrides island come alive in the reader's mind. One can almost imagine one is there and it certainly becomes a place one would like to visit.
A young model, Gianetta Brooke, arrives at the hotel ready to enjoy her retreat from the rat race of London, only to find herself in an acrimonious atmosphere of tension and suspicion. She is horrified to learn of the ritualistic murder of a young local girl and finds herself in the unique position of being the only hotel resident to be free from suspicion, owing to the fact that she was not on the island when the first murder occurred.
The mystery and suspense surrounding these murders along with a dash of romance make for enjoyable and light reading.
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on 3 January 2014
I have come to read Mary Stewart's contemporary novels via her Arthur and Merlin collection. Even though she employs the same consummate narrative skill and faultless research, the mystery novels are very different in style and, for some, easier to read.

This early tale deals with a young model whose marriage has failed and who finds herself on a short break from her career in London, in the unlikely setting of a remote Scottish fishing lodge. The descriptions of Skye and the brooding mountains that shape its landscape are incredible and very atmospheric. The many protagonists in this mystery all come alive as the tension mounts and the book is difficult to put down. In the end, the heroine has journeyed inside herself and faced a moral choice that shapes the rest of her life.

I actually like the fact that these books, written in the fifties and sixties, reflect their times so faithfully. No bad language, crude content or cheap thrills. This is quality writing coupled with a knack for story-telling that puts this author heads and shoulders above her contemporaries in this genre. I invariably read Mary Stewart's books again and again.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 May 2012
The second of Mary Stewart's mystery novels showing an already deft hand and complete mastery of her craft. The story starts harmlessly enough in London but soon Gianetta (the conflicted heroine) travels to the island of Skye where she will meet an intriguing assortment of guests at a remote fishing lodge, and an unsettling series of events will soon start to unfold.

Stewart knows her Scotland well and her compelling descriptions provide an exquisitely-drawn travelogue background to a sinister plot which takes the heroine through a journey of self-discovery that eventually frees her from her painful past. Brilliant character development exposing the many sides of each of the protagonists to the point that even the vilest of criminals elicited my (temporary) sympathy. With this book Lady Stewart establishes what will become her trademark treatment of her heroines by taking a slightly insecure young woman and putting her through a range of situations requiring a lot of courage, both physical and moral, and a fair bit of athletic stamina. The supporting cast are also strong individuals, my favourite being the irrepressible Marcia, who comes alive through lively dialogue and shrewd observation of mannerism. The male leads are a little less prominent but suitably influential: one convincing in his insidious madness, the other flawed but fascinating enough that we understand his attraction, despite some egocentric and frankly despicable behaviour.

If, at times, it seems as though the real protagonist is Blaven itself, the mystical cloud-shrouded mountain, we are never allowed to lose track of the human drama unfolding in its forbidding shadow.
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on 1 April 2005
When I was a child in the 1970s we were on a holiday on the west coast of Scotland and by chance, taking refuge in the car from the torrential summer downpour in the barren square of Portree, my father turned on the radio. What came on was a creepy, disturbing drama set on Skye. A young woman, the only visitor to this country hotel not on the suspect list for a grizzly murder is sitting in the dead of night by the unconscious body of another would-be victim of the murderer. "How appropriate!" my mother laughed, and we listened on. The landscape of the story was the same landscape that was around me, though I couldn't see it for the rain, and there were strange characters, a crazed climber, beltane fires and murder. I thought it was great and it really, really stayed with me. It was years later that I read Wildfire at Midnight and realised that this was the self-same story I'd heard as a child. It's cracking, unashamedly romantic, but really rather well written. A good read for a sick day tucked up on the sofa, or a quiet night in. Mary Stewart's great - if only new pulp fiction could manage the same alluring balance of literary poise and good swash-buckling plots. No one else does it as well.
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First Sentence: In the first place, I suppose, it was my parent’s fault for giving me a silly name like Gianetta.

Fashion model Gianetta follows the suggestion of her parents and heads to the Isle of Sky for a restful vacation. Those plans did not include finding her ex-husband, Nicholas Drury, at the same hotel. Nor did they include learning a local girl had recently been murdered and left in a way that suggests a ritual. But the killer isn’t done. Can Gianetta avoid becoming a victim?

Told in first person, past tense, Stewart’s character both provides us with comprehensive information as to her background, and makes the reader welcome into her story. Stewart makes her protagonist very approachable and rather self-deprecating; a lovely trait considering Gianetta’s profession.

With the same clarity of writing, we also know the other characters in the story through their descriptions, mannerisms and speech. It’s nice that she included both certain character’s dialects and Gaelic phrases. What is particularly clever is the use of one of the characters, actress Marcia, who, smoothly and naturally, introduces many of the other characters to both us and to Gianetta.

It’s the small touches that make the time and setting come to life, such as remembering that this was an age when most people smoked, or that some placed still used dip-pens. There were also delightfully British turns-of-phrase…”She wasn’t just hit or stabbed or choked in a fit of human passion. She was deliberately done to death…” At the same time, there are ideas from then that still hold true…”Don’t you know yet that there’s no room for pride in marriage? You have to choose between the two.”…and the age old question of the limits of loyalty. Her descriptions of place are evocative…”And, locked in the great arms of the mountains, the water lay quiet as a burnished shield, reflecting the deeper blue and deeper gold the pageantry of hill and sky.”

Although traditionally regarded as "romantic suspense"--I suspect by the men who ran publishing companies--the emphasis is much more on the mystery than on romance. While there is a touch of romance done in classic 50’s fashion of conversations not shared with the audience, and activities taking place behind closed doors, they story is, at its heart with excellent red herrings and plenty of suspense, an exciting climax and a wonderful ending.

“Wildfire at Midnight” is one of those wonderful books that doesn’t grow old or passé. Much more of a traditional suspense than romantic-suspense, it is as wonderful a read today, as it was when first published, and Ms. Stewart should be considered among the classic authors.

WILDFIRE AT MIDNIGHT (Sups-Gianetta Brooke Drury-Scotland-Contemp) - VG
Stewart, Mary – Standalone
William Morrow and Company – 1956
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 January 2013
The second of Mary Stewart's mystery novels showing an already deft hand and complete mastery of her craft. The story starts harmlessly enough in London but soon Gianetta (the conflicted heroine) travels to the island of Skye where she will meet an intriguing assortment of guests at a remote fishing lodge, and an unsettling series of events will soon start to unfold.

Stewart knows her Scotland well and her compelling descriptions provide an exquisitely-drawn travelogue background to a sinister plot which takes the heroine through a journey of self-discovery that eventually frees her from her painful past. Brilliant character development exposing the many sides of each of the protagonists to the point that even the vilest of criminals elicited my (temporary) sympathy. With this book Lady Stewart establishes what will become her trademark treatment of her heroines by taking a slightly insecure young woman and putting her through a range of situations requiring a lot of courage, both physical and moral, and a fair bit of athletic stamina. The supporting cast are also strong individuals, my favourite being the irrepressible Marcia, who comes alive through lively dialogue and shrewd observation of mannerism. The male leads are a little less prominent but suitably influential: one convincing in his insidious madness, the other flawed but fascinating enough that we understand his attraction, despite some egocentric and frankly despicable behaviour.

If, at times, it seems as though the real protagonist is Blaven itself, the mystical cloud-shrouded mountain, we are never allowed to lose track of the human drama unfolding in its forbidding shadow.
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VINE VOICEon 25 January 2007
Mary Stewart's gorgeous romantic thrillers enlivened many a dull afternoon for me as a teenager, and even today, I just love going back again and again into their enchanted atmosphere. This is, I believe, the very first of Mary Stewart's novels(first published in 1956) and it bears all the hallmarks of her distinctive style--a spirited, lively, but slighly disillusioned heroine-narrator; two love interests of whom one will prove to be dangerous, though you can never pick which; fabulous setting(in this case, Skye), lyrical writing which nevertheless never gets bogged down in too much description, and a gripping mystery, laced with lots of suspense. A delicious concoction, to be savoured slowly, like good chocolate!
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on 23 April 2016
3/5

Gianetta takes a long needed holiday in Skye, from her stressful job. Turns out its not the most peaceful place as advertised, there's been murder and the guests of her hotel are suspects. Oh and her cheating ex husband is there too! What utter fun..

I liked this enough, though it was more suspense than what I'm used to with Mary Stewart. It reminded me a little of Agatha Christie.

I liked the air of dread and mystery surrounding everything and especially with the scenery playing a part in the cat and mouse chase on the mountain with the fog. But I felt like at points it was a tad melodramatic.

It was predictable enough but I liked how the red herrings made me confused and unsure of the bad guy even when I was quite certain of who it was.

The underlying "romance" though vague and we weren't sure who twas gonna be as there was no true sign of it, was annoying and disappointing in the end. (view spoiler)

I mostly liked Giannetta's voice and how she maneuvered through her adventures. But seriously I was internally trying to scream telepathically at her (it was 5am,I couldnae shout ye ken), because it was clear she was oblivious to the most likely and actual bad guy. Come on girl, you seemed intelligent enough.. Oh well.

So cool story bro, but really could you be a little less dumb. I dunno I'm finding books meh this week.
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on 1 February 2014
Having read Mary Stewart many years ago, I was delighted to see her books available on Kindle. This one was a favourite back then so I bought it first and was not disappointed. Although several decades old, the story manages to be delightfully timeless, and the lack of foul language, graphically depicted revolting violence and tediously detailed sex is surprisingly refreshing. Will now work my way through the rest.
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on 20 April 2016
I had read this novel before approximately 45 years ago. An English teacher at school gave us girls Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart and I was of an age when the adventure, danger and romance totally gripped me. Over the next year I was a constant visitor to the library and read everything that Mary Stewart had written. Wildfire at Midnight was special as I had been on Skye for family holidays and loved the area. Although I had read it before I still was engrossed in the action, the build up of tension and, of course, the descriptions of the area which, although not strictly accurate (they dont claim to be), are still evocative for me as I remember the landscape.
As with most of Mary Stewart novels, if you like a beautiful heroine with pluck, a handsome hero, danger and strong descriptive passages this is a book for you.
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