Flight of a Witch

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Annet Beck, a hauntingly beautiful teenager, leaves her home in a small English village to mail a letter and simply disappears after walking over the Hallowmount, known in local legends as a site for gatherings of witches and fairies. She reappears after five days but insists that she has been gone for only a few hours. Her parents and their boarder, Tom Kenyan, cannot accept her story, but they are unable to account for the missing days. Lurking in everyone’s mind is a suspicion that Annet may have attempted an elopement, similar to an earlier, abortive one she had with a local schoolboy.

This sense of mystery is drastically changed when Detective-Inspector Felse of the local C.I.D. arrives with an entirely plausible but tragic explanation of Annet’s absence. She is questioned as a possible witness in a robbery and murder in Birmingham. Although it becomes clear that she was involved, she remains silent, obviously protecting someone but unwilling to lie. Felse and Kenyan join forces to identify Annet’s lover before he can escape and possibly harm her in order to protect himself.

Peters is adept at drawing out the suspense of the murderer’s identity by inserting an occasional red herring, and she succeeds in conveying Annet’s sense of mystery and growing desperation and Tom’s confused feeling about Annet. Inspector Felse is, however, a relatively minor character and lacks strong definition. FLIGHT OF THE WITCH is a standard fare by a practiced hand.