Beware of the Dog

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

BEWARE OF THE DOG is another of Ferrars’ mysteries featuring the down-to-earth Virginia Freer and her estranged husband, Felix, whose admirable qualities include charm, intelligence, and insight, but who, unfortunately, has a habit of stealing and a propensity for telling lies. Perhaps it is Felix’s very skill at inventing alternative worlds for himself which makes him so good at constructing possible scenarios for murders committed by others. Virginia turns to him after the death of her elderly neighbor Helen Lovelack, when Helen’s emeralds are reported to be fakes, her elderly dog is poisoned, and her grandniece and heir Kate Galvin is found murdered in her bed.

Naturally, suspicion falls on the other heir, Helen’s grandnephew from Australia, Nicholas (Nick) Duffield. However, Helen’s housekeeper, Anna Cox, who has become very much attached to Nick, seems convinced of his innocence. There are plenty of others who might have had reason to kill Kate. The suspects include a mentally retarded man, whom Kate had once accused of sexual assault; his mother; a mystery writer whose husband had once had an affair with Kate; and an amateur jewelry-maker who may be involved in the theft of the emeralds.

With her usual skill, E.X. Ferrars maintains suspense to the final pages of the book, when, ironically, it is Felix, the habitually untruthful sleuth, who reveals the truth and exposes the guilty.