RogerBW's Blog

A Choice of Evils, Elizabeth Ferrars 05 February 2014

Eighth and final book in Ferrars' Andrew Basnett series.

Andrew Basnett is a retired professor of botany who gets accidentally mixed up with murders. This is classic amateur sleuthing, though he usually manages to remain on good terms with the police; in the later books, they've sometimes even heard of him, and have a grudging respect for him.

In this volume, Basnett goes for a relaxing holiday in a small seaside town, but first runs into his writer nephew Peter Dilly, then gets invited to the dinner party of the vastly popular writer Simon Amory with whom Dilly is staying. Amory's a bit of an odd fish, but things really get started when his sister-in-law is found shot, and Peter's both the last person to see her alive and the first to discover the body.

There's a lot of cutting interpersonal observation, reminding me of the way people broke down in The Crime and the Crystal (the third in this series, set in Australia). All the necessary clues are present; I spotted the major plot point not directly identifying the murderer before it was revealed, but had a misapprehension about the identity of the murderer and was pleasantly surprised to be wrong.

The ending is something of an anti-climax: once Basnett has pointed out to the police both his theories and the evidence that will confirm them, the actual search and arrest take place off-stage. Basnett is not, of course, an action hero, nor is he working for the police, but it seems a shame that Ferrars couldn't have contrived to bring him on-stage. This has been a repeated minor problem in the series; like most of the sort of detective fiction I prefer, the stories are essentially logic puzzles rather than character pieces, but I enjoy Ferrars' writing of characters enough that I'd like to have seen her tackle the bluster of the discovered murderer too.

This was written towards the end of Ferrars' life, and there's a certain sense of tiredness, but she knew her stuff and this is still a satisfying story.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1