21 September 2015

Review: GIVE A CORPSE A BAD NAME, Elizabeth Ferrars

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 387 KB
  • Print Length: 164 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1780020279
  • Publication Date: December 1, 2010
    First published 1940
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004GXA5WU
Synopsis (Amazon)

On a cold winter’s night, a man is run over while lying drunk in the middle of a Devon lane. Driving the car is local resident Anna Milne, an attractive widow from South Africa. It could be an unfortunate accident, but strange coincidence hints at more. For the dead man also comes from South Africa. And he has Anna Milne's address in his pocket… In conjunction with the police, it is Toby Dyke, ex-reporter and man of no fixed occupation, who investigates the curious circumstance of the stranger’s death. 

My Take

This is a relatively short Golden Age novel that I've had sitting on my Kindle TBR for some time. I hadn't realised it was the debut title in a series of 6 novels. An interesting feature of the list is that the final title was published over 50 years after the fifth, and only a couple of years before the author's death. Not only that but it appears to have been the first of Elizabeth Ferrars' published work.

The plot is a complex one which poses some intriguing questions. Why does the local lord of the manor claim the dead body is his son whom he hasn't seen for some fifteen years, while Lady Maxwell says that it isn't. And who is sending anonymous letters to Toby Dyke to spur on his investigation?

And does Toby Dyke get it right or wrong at the end? Is he too clever for his own good?

This is a novel that has weathered the test of time quite well.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Elizabeth Ferrars (1907-1995) was one of the most distinguished crime writers of her generation. She was described by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine as 'The writer who may be the closest of all to Christie in style, plotting and general milieu'. Born in 1907 in Rangoon, Burma, the author grew up in Hampshire, England, before studying journalism in London. Her first crime novel, Give a Corpse a Bad Name, was published in 1940. During her career, she wrote more than seventy novels and became immensely popular in America, where she was published as E.X. Ferrars. In 1953, she became a founding member of the British Crime Writers' Association and, in the early 1980s, was awarded its Silver Dagger for a lifetime's achievement. She died in 1995.

Toby Dyke
Give a Corpse a Bad Name (1940)
Remove the Bodies (1940)
     aka Rehearsals for Murder
Death in Botanist's Bay (1941)
     aka Murder of a Suicide
Don't Monkey with Murder (1942)
     aka The Shape of a Stain
Your Neck in a Noose (1942)
Neck in a Noose (1993)

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

I really like the title of this one, Kerrrie. Glad it was a good read.


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