RogerBW's Blog

The March Hare Murders, Elizabeth Ferrars 12 December 2022

1949 murder mystery. David came to a small seaside village to live with his sister after his nervous breakdown, only to find as his neighbour Professor Verinder, whom he holds responsible for the suicide of the girl he loved. Sure enough, the professor is soon murdered; but David's far from the only person with a motive.

I get a strong ense of Ferrars growing as a writer with this book: yes, most of her women are still prone to fall into "hysteria", but they're a bit less screechy and on edge than they have been in the last few books. And while any reasonably well-informed modern reader is well aware that people who have been in the mental health system are vastly more likely to be victims than perpetrators of crime, that clearly wasn't common knowledge in 1949.

David protests his innocence, but there's an awful lot of evidence pointing towards him; on the other hand, Verinder seems to have offended pretty much everyone in the area. There's a compulsive fabulator who confuses everyone, and a man obsessed with food hygiene. Everyone constantly frets about how to stretch their rations, without being too overtly involved with the black market. And then there's another death.

It's a short book and one that ends very abruptly, but that's my only real argument with it. Like much of Ferrars it's spiky and everyone's a bit on edge, but in this book that feels like the right attitude for people to to take to the times and places in which they find themselves.

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