RogerBW's Blog

Frog in the Throat, Elizabeth Ferrars 15 September 2023

1980 mystery. Virginia is staying in the country with some friends, but when her estranged husband Felix turns up there's bound to be troubleā€¦

It's an interesting secondary source of tension: there's a double murder and a limited pool of suspects, but there's also the ongoing question of what Felix is up to and what he'll do next. We're assured that there's no malice in him, but he's at best a fabulator and casual thief, and nothing he says can be trusted.

Meanwhile, the corpse of the first victim vanishes while the discoverer is calling for help. Everyone seems to be planning to marry, or already be married to, everyone else. Everyone has a dark secret.

By this point in her writing career, Ferrars has come to terms with the way that normal women are not prone to casual hysterics, so when someone does indulge it it's worthy of note and possibly relevant to the plot. But what I think works best here is the way Virginia, first-person narrator, comes to suspect everyone, because even the nicest people can start to seem odd as the tension rises.

In style this could easily have worked as a pre-war mystery with only minor changes, but Ferrars carries it off well, and I enjoy the additional complication that Felix represents.

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