A Hobby of Murder

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

A HOBBY OF MURDER features retired botany professor Andrew Basnett, a character well known to readers of the late E. X. Ferrars’ mysteries. In this tale, Basnett is in search of an activity to fill his time, but being hopelessly unable to imagine a hobby he would enjoy, he decides to spend a quiet week with friends Ian and Mollie Davidge in the village of Lower Milfrey.

Much to his dismay, Basnett learns upon his arrival that he is invited to several parties. At the first of these, he is introduced to a number of quirky villagers who become the major players in the story, including the wealthy Sam and Anna Waldron, who will host a banquet at the weekend.

The following Saturday, about twenty guests assemble at random around the dining table at the Waldrons, one being an Inspector Roland who ends up seated next to the guest of honor, Luke Singleton. During the meal, Singleton keels over dead. It appears that everyone is a suspect, even though no one can point the finger at any one else. The most likely culprit is seated the farthest away from the victim.

A HOBBY OF MURDER is a classic British whodunit with a likable, astute protagonist. It stands as a posthumous tribute to Ferrars, a prolific author of mysteries, and shows she did not lose her touch as she grew older (although her characterization of middle-aged women is dated). In A HOBBY OF MURDER, she deftly constructs an entertaining and absorbing puzzle that depends on the clever and insightful deductions of Andrew Basnett for its solution.