RogerBW's Blog

Last Will and Testament, Elizabeth Ferrars 11 August 2023

1978 mystery. The rich old woman dies, not unexpectedly. But her relatives and her solicitor are all going to be surprised, some of them fatally.

There's a relatively small cast, some shenanigans with a will, and questions about inheritance, theft and blackmail. The housekeeper and gardener insist on leaving to seek further employment, then disappear. There are unwise relationships aplenty.

But the thing that this whole story hangs on is not the narrator, Virginia, who has some sort of medical job, but Felix, her estranged husband ­ he's a compulsive fabulist, a little like one of the characters in The March Hare Murders thirty years earlier. Virginia quite likes him, from a distance, but can't bring herself to fall for him again because she's seen his tricks too many times.

So when the gardener and housekeeper have disappeared, they show up in Felix's flat in London, apparently as his friends. Felix makes all sort of claims, some of which may even be vaguely true. Virginia, who still clearly has some feelings for Felix, is somewhat tossed on his waves, particularly in the matter of what she's going to tell the police and when.

The only voluntary work that Felix had ever done among the criminal classes, so far as I was aware, had consisted of drinking with them in pubs and I thought that Patrick probably knew this.

Felix does most of the actual detective work here, and Virginia mostly reacts to Felix; but her reactions, and her own separate observations, are great fun, a welcome change from Ferrars' tendency to write habitually hysterical woman.

It's an odd setup, and Ferrars managed to carry it on for several more books; I confess I'm intrigued.

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See also:
The March Hare Murders, Elizabeth Ferrars

Series: Virginia Freer | Next in series: Frog in the Throat

  1. Posted by Rand Brittain at 03:54pm on 11 August 2023

    I always enjoyed Virginia and Felix's dynamic; a lot of Ferrars' books tend towards the depressing insofar as they don't elide the fact that murders make people really sad. These two are close enough to comedy (although honestly their history isn't really funny, either) that it keeps things ticking.

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