Danger from the Dead Essay - Critical Essays

Danger from the Dead

DANGER FROM THE DEAD is a suspenseful murder mystery told through the eyes of Gavin Cleaver, a retiring middle-aged schoolmaster, who expects to spend his summer holidays in peace and quiet at a cottage his brother owns in rural Oxfordshire. However, not long after he has settled in, Gavin drops in at the main house to find his invalid sister-in-law, Annabel Cleaver, apparently dead of natural causes and her half-sister, Caroline Astor, shot to death, presumably by Annabel. Although this easy solution is tempting, it does not satisfy Gavin or the police inspector assigned to the case.

Then, to his dismay, Gavin’s two sisters arrive to help in the family crisis. Actually, Gavin expects them to make the situation even more difficult. They do not get along. Furthermore, they are obsessed with their own enthusiasms, one with healing and mysticism, the other with organic gardening. However, these unlikely detectives put aside their quarrel, speculate about motivations, and, ironically, arrive at the truth in advance of the detective and Gavin himself.

Ferrars has been called a worthy successor to Agatha Christie, whom she resembles. In DANGER FROM THE DEAD and in her sixty-odd other mysteries, she brings together a small group of characters, one of whom is a murderer, and conscientiously provides her readers with the clues they need to solve the crime. To their delight, she generally outsmarts them, and at the end of the book, just as with Christie, they can only wonder at her wizardry.