Thy Brother Death

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In THY BROTHER DEATH, E. X. Ferrars once again demonstrates her mastery of the genre. As in some sixty earlier novels, she invents a puzzling set of circumstances and then keeps her readers in suspense until the final pages of the book. This story begins with a peculiar letter written to a senior lecturer in biochemistry at a small English university, in which a total stranger accuses him of deserting her after their recent marriage. To the disappointment of the university gossips who have gotten wind of the scandal, the lecturer, Dr. Patrick Carey, and his wife, Henrietta, are not disturbed by this charge. They merely assume that Patrick’s disreputable brother David is involved in another one of his confidence games. When the young woman appears on their doorstep and admits that the Patrick Carey she sees is not the one she married, presumably their lives can return to normal.

Patrick soon finds himself implicated, however, in more serious crimes. Someone sets fire to the home of Patrick’s department head and implacable enemy, Margaret Franks, and after the blaze is put out, investigators find the body of the supposed Mrs. Carey, locked inside the house. Then Margaret herself is found murdered in front of the apartment building where the Carey’s live. With circumstantial evidence pointing Patrick’s way, he and Henrietta begin their own investigation, which leads them first to evidence of fraud and blackmail, then to an unlikely murderer. THY BROTHER DEATH is a well-crafted story, intellectually challenging and immensely satisfying to read.