Thursday, 17 January 2008

Elizabeth Ferrars “Foot in the Grave”

Life for Henry and Christine Findon suddenly changed when their peaceful house was invaded by family and friends. First some left shoes disappeared and the day after their arrival, a murder takes place... great Agatha Christie type fun. Originally published in 1973 it was reprinted a few times, most recently in 1994.

For a full list of her books see:-

It only took a few hours to read but worth it and I'm delighted to have found a new easy-to-read crime author.

ELIZABETH FERRARS (Morna Doris MacTaggart Brown) was born in 1907 and died in 1995. I am amazed that I have not come across Elizabeth Frrars before., She is the author of 66 general crime novels (1945-1996) in addition to 7 more crime novels in the Toby Dyke series which she began publishing in 1940. Described on the cover of the one I read as being Agatha Christie-like I can confirm that it was. Not too much blood and gore but plenty of character delineation and mystery. Her books are still being re-issued.

"For well over half a century, from 1940 to the day she died, the writer Elizabeth Ferrars ploughed a distinguished furrow in the crime and detection field. She was a perfect representative of what is known in the United States as a writer of "cosy" mysteries: detective stories that purely entertain, with an involving puzzle solved by reasonably lifelike characters, and do not overly challenge the "status quo" or perhaps (more crucially) threaten the average reader's susceptibilities.

Ferrars was literate, intelligent, often ingenious, not frighteningly intellectual, and those who picked up her books - hundreds of thousands of them per year (she was consistently placed in the highest Public Lending Right band, always earning the maximum payment) - were guaranteed an enjoyable and absorbing couple of hours.

Born in Burma in 1907, Ferrars received an establishment education: Bedales School in Hampshire (1918-24), then University College London (1925-28), where she gained a diploma in journalism in her final years. In her writing career, two mainstream novels published in the early 1930s (under her real name, Morna MacTaggart) were a false start. The publication in 1940, however, of Give a Corpse a Bad Name led to a lifetime's imaginative and accumulatively - for her bank balance - useful toil. She started as she meant to go on. Having found her niche she proceeded to bombard her publishers, Hodder & Stoughton - who had a penchant for superior crime fiction, although an over-paternalistic attitude towards its own practitioners - with manuscripts. Her first five books were all issued in the three years from 1940 to 1942, and for this reason she may legitimately be regarded as one of the very last authors of detective fiction from the genre's "Golden Age": since wartime paper restrictions finally transformed good, fat library novels into sad and skinny chapbooks in 1942, generally regarded as the year when the door finally closed on the great days of Mayhem Parva."

For more detail see her obituary -
Independent, The (London), Apr 19, 1995 by Jack Adrian

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