Murder in Time (1953) by Elizabeth Ferrars

Today I am reviewing one of Ferrars’ non-series titles. A plane is being specially chartered to take Mark Auty’s 9 guests to a villa in Nice, for a weekend trip. A generous gesture you may think, but let’s just say Mark’s motivations are far from innocent. Why has Mark really invited them? And why did they all accept? All will be revealed once murder has struck…

The story starts off with the 9 guests and their thoughts about the invitation they have received. We begin to get an inkling as to why they might be going, as well as getting a chance to see their state of living. They come from different walks of life, yet they all seem to know Mark one way or another. However, there is something special about the 9th guest, Sarah Wing. She bumps into Mark accidently on her way home, after having witnessed an accident. She is in shock, and worried that the accident was not all that it appeared to be. It is this chance encounter which leads Mark to invite her to the weekend away, wanting someone there he can trust. She is the character we stay closest to during the rest of the book. Yet when she, along with the others convene at Mark’s home before the flight, it quickly becomes apparent that more is afoot.

Overall Thoughts

Perusing this description of the book, a seasoned mystery reader is likely to think that they know what sort of story they are going to be getting – the country house murder mystery on holiday. However, Ferrars very much takes her plot in an alternative direction, having murder strike before anyone has got on the plane, and ultimately the trip away has a different purpose altogether. Not least being a lure for both the characters and the reader.  

What this novel does well is its misdirection; a skill I have seen Ferrars demonstrate in other mysteries she wrote. Her choice of protagonist is partially important in this but is not the only weapon in her arsenal. The reader has to be careful of what they choose to believe and like the suspects they need to sift the evidence and information they are given. This assessment process after the murder is the primary focus of the narrative, with the police very much in the background. There is definitely a puzzle element to this tale as the reader has to consider whether one suspect has deliberately lied or been mistaken about what they saw.

However, I think the main weakness of the book is the convoluted nature of its ending. Having successfully misdirected the reader, and posed an interesting situation, the finale is disappointing and could have been clearer and neater. There is also a lot of conversation in this book and I wonder whether all of it adds to the story and therefore the reader’s enjoyment.

Rating: 4/5

See also: Moira at Clothes in Books has also reviewed this title here. Also like Moira I really hope there was typo when a character said they were looking forward to wearing their topless dress…

12 comments

  1. Thanks for the review… It does sound interesting, especially your comment about its puzzle – which surprised me, as the green covers for the Murder Room titles tend to be thrillers rather than mysteries. Thinking of checking this one out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s no one’s Inspector French, but I don’t think I would cagtegorise this as a thriller. I think there is quite a bit of evidence/information giving, which along the amateur sleuth – character or reader, to have a go at solving the case.

      Like

  2. Oh my, another to add to the wants list. Thank you for the review, it sounds enticing. I bought Enough to Kill a Horse on your say so and was surprised by it (I’d assumed for some reason that Ferrars was super cozy) in a good way. This entices me personally because of the character Mark Auty as when I tell strangers my first name, Arkady, I invariably get a question reply: Mark Adey? Mark Auty, I hope he’s not all bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah Ferrars is definitely not cozy. I have enjoyed pretty much all of the books I have read by her bar one, which was a later one that didn’t quite work with its espionage/thriller elements. Mark is pretty bad, but I don’t think Ferrars goes to town on his less unpleasant aspects.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve become a big fan of Ferrars and have had a very good time with two of her books already this year – Alive and Dead & Unreasonable Doubt.
    I can’t see her ever being regarded as one of the greats, but that shouldn’t be seen as a major criticism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve not read the two you mention, bit have read ones throughout her career and I would say she is still able to produce a good mystery right at the end. I have not seen a consistent decline at any point.

      Like

    • It could well be, but I have never personally referred to a skirt in that fashion and I have never read or heard anyone else do the same. But I imagine Moira can give us a more authoritative answer on this matter.

      Like

  4. Amazon actually has a Ferrars “Companion” reference-type book for sale. There’s only one rating and the book’s about 10 years old, but seems a little pricey. It’s said to have “explanations or relevant genre terminology” whatever that means!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.