His curly hair stood straight up from his forehead in more of a thatch than I approved of, but it was very difficult to persuade him to have it cut. Day after day, when I badgered him enough about it, he would promise to go into Alcaster to have the job done, but sometimes weeks would pass before he finally gave in and went, to come back with it cropped almost to his skull. He was utterly indifferent to his appearance, which was a pity, because he was really a very good-looking man. He was tall, very slender, and although he looked so bony, he moved with charmingly casual ease. He was dressed more or less as I was in old corduroy slacks and a sweater, but his had not been to the cleaner’s for a far longer time than mine. To deprive him of his favourite clothes, even briefly, took art and determination.
observations: Martin Edwards, crime writer and reader (of the splendid Do You Write Under Your Own Name? blog) recommended this one to me when I covered a previous Ferrars book, and, as he says, it has an interesting plot idea. They’re not demanding books (although this one starts out with a very elaborate family – a widow with five stepchildren from her husband’s two previous marriages) and there’s a lot of action and quite a complex denoument.
What I do enjoy is finding the pictures to match Ms Ferrars’ work: the woman wearing a fur coat to go to badminton here (1940s), the girl in a green dress in the Mediterranean villa here (1950s). Now we are in the 1980s (I keep saying, she did write a lot), but the look of a romantic hero hasn’t changed much – in Alibi for a Witch we had discussion of male haircuts and shabby clothes.
The idea that this impoverished couple send their casual clothes to the cleaner’s seems quite unlikely – they have a dishwasher, so surely they also have a washing machine. Occasionally Ferrars' view of modern life seems to waver slightly, and in truth there isn’t much to pin it to the 1980s. But I wasn’t going to miss the chance to find a fine couple and a chap all in sweaters from the era – these are, of course, knitting pattern pictures.
The book is an entertaining read, I guessed part but by no means all of the solution, and it has some nice family scenes of grown-up children quarrelling.
I recently suggested to fellow-blogger TracyK that there is a category of books which could be described as: ‘If I were stuck in a B&B overnight with nothing to read, I would be delighted to find this book (series, author) to read, but I wouldn’t seek it/them out.’ A snappy title, sure to catch on, I’m sure you’ll agree. And that’s the category Ferrars might fall into.
I sent my copy of the book to Tracy, because she collects books with skeletons on the cover, and you can read her review here on her lovely Bitter Tea and Mystery blog.