Smoke Without Fire

E. X. Ferrars, Author
E. X. Ferrars, Author Doubleday Books $14.95 (182p) ISBN 978-0-385-26514-0
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
It's two evenings before Christmas in the comfy Berkshire village home of Colin and Dorothea Cahill, the tea things have been washed, dinner's on the stove and the Cahills are sipping sherry with their customary houseguest for the holidays, widower Andrew Basnett, a retired botany professor in his 70s. Suddenly the tranquility of the scene is shattered by an explosion that kills the Cahills' arrogant, selfish neighbor Sir Lucas Dearden, a retired criminal lawyer, and shatters his Mercedes. Sir Lucas had enemies, among them, perhaps, his gentle spy-novelist son Nicholas, who ia married to the high-strung Gwen. But Dorothea is quite sure the booby trap was meant for her bachelor son Jonathan, the motive being Jonathan's passion for Gwen. (Jonathan would normally have been coming home from work at about the time of Sir Lucas's unexpected return from London.) Many red herrings and blind alleys later, unwilling amateur sleuth Andrew (who dislikes Christmas but loves Dorothea's cucumber sandwiches) comes to a surprising and satisfying conclusion, helped by the discovery that one page is missing from the typescript of Lucas's dismayingly dull memoirs. Ferrars ( Woman Slaughter , A Murder Too Many ) has published more than 60 books and the craftsmanship of this one shows why her popularity endures. (Feb.)
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