Monday, April 29, 2019

The March Hare Murders

The March Hare Murders (1949) by Elizabeth Ferrars

Murder strikes the sleepy, seaside village of Wellford. David Obeney has come to his sisster's home in Wellford to recuperate from a mental breakdown--brought on by his experiences in the war. He doesn't expect to find one of his least favorite people in the world, Professor Verinder, whom he regards as responsible for the death of the girl he loved.

When Verinder is found murdered with David's own service revolver and the only witness is left injured without being able to identify the killer, David is the obvious and (from the village's point of view) most desirable suspect. After all--he had a known grudge against the man and he's an outsider, so they wouldn't have to worry about it being "one of us." The circumstantial evidence piles up against him and it begins to look black for David, but Inspector Upjohn from Scotland Yard isn't ready to accept the easy answer; particularly since it appears to have been contrived to point towards Obeney.

And it's not like there aren't other reasons that someone might have wanted the professor out of the way. He's revealed to be an unfaithful husband and to have been involved in smuggling rare first editions out of the country. There's a hint of blackmail in the offing too.  

Most of the mysteries I've read by Ferrars were written in the 1970s with my favorites featuring Andrew Basnett, retired professor of botany. This particular novel seems to play more to the suspense crowd than the straight mystery. In fact, David Obeney reminds me of the young heroines from Mignon G. Eberhart novels--nearly always in stressful circumstances and generally regarded as the prime suspect by their contemporaries. The net keeps pulling tighter round them until the hero (or in this case the inspector) finds a way to prove our suspect innocent. 

The suspense here falls a little flat. It's quite obvious that David isn't going to prove to be the villain in the case and it's not too difficult to figure out who it is. A little too cut and dried with one small surprise at the end. ★★ and a half.

Deaths = 3 (one shot; one shoved off a cliff; one poisoned)

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