Skip to main content

Bibliophile reviews Flight of a Witch (mystery)

Author: Ellis Peters
No. in series: 3
Series detective: George Felse
Year published: 1964
Pages: 247
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of detective: Police and amateurs
Setting and time: Wales, 1960’s
Some themes: Murder, robbery, obsession

The Story: A young man sees Annet, the daughter of his landlord, walking up a mountain. She returns five days later but maintains that she has been away only 2 hours, counting on being believed because of stories of such things having happened before on the mountain. However, she looks like the young woman seen standing near a jewellery store where an old man was murdered and robbed, and the police suspect that her male companion is guilty of the crime. But Annet refuses to talk, and Felse has a hard time solving the mystery and finding her lover.

Review: I have read a couple of Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael mysteries and one non-series book, and therefore could not include her in the challenge. But this is my first acquaintance with Inspector Felse.

The story is not only a mystery, it is also a twisted love story. Finding the man in the case is of prime importance because Felse thinks he may try to kill the only person who knows who he is, Annet. She, on the other hand, obviously loves him so much that she would rather die than see him hang for the murder (the story happens while the death penalty was still in force in Britain). So far so good.

The characters are variously drawn, some very well, some not so. Unfortunately Felse is one of the less well drawn. He hardly seems to have a personality, but I will forgive that as he’s a series character and may either have been described better in a previous book or will develop through the following books. Here he is hardly anything more than a thinking machine. The young woman, Annet, is well drawn but rather unbelievable. She is so bewitchingly lovely that all men either fall in love with her or want to protect her, and she just gets to be massively annoying before the end, with her hysteria and obsession. I couldn’t summon up any sympathy for her at all. As to her lover, it is rather unbelievable that she would have fallen for such a man, but of course we know that love is irrational. I guess what I want to say is that the feelings of the characters are rather too passionate for my taste, and the ending too highly dramatic.


Since Peters has sympathy with the killer, she allows him a way out of being judged and hung, something which has really started to annoy me in stories written about time periods and places where the death penalty is in force, because the alternatives are so few that all have been used ad nauseam by soft hearted authors. These alternatives are flight, incarceration in an institute for the criminally insane, a milder sentence due to extenuating circumstances, and death: by suicide, accident or getting killed by pursuers while trying to escape. I have read so many books that use these devices that I am really beginning to hate them. If a writer can not lead the criminal to her or his logical end or find an original way of rescuing them from the gallows, they should stick to other kinds of mysteries.

Rating: A tale of murder, obsession and doomed love. 2+ stars.


Popular posts from this blog

Book 40: The Martian by Andy Weir, audiobook read by Wil Wheaton

Note : This will be a general scattershot discussion about my thoughts on the book and the movie, and not a cohesive review. When movies are based on books I am interested in reading but haven't yet read, I generally wait to read the book until I have seen the movie, but when a movie is made based on a book I have already read, I try to abstain from rereading the book until I have seen the movie. The reason is simple: I am one of those people who can be reduced to near-incoherent rage when a movie severely alters the perfectly good story line of a beloved book, changes the ending beyond recognition or adds unnecessarily to the story ( The Hobbit , anyone?) without any apparent reason. I don't mind omissions of unnecessary parts so much (I did not, for example, become enraged to find Tom Bombadil missing from The Lord of the Rings ), because one expects that - movies based on books would be TV-series long if they tried to include everything, so the material must be pared down

List love: 10 recommended stories with cross-dressing characters

This trope is almost as old as literature, what with Achilles, Hercules and Athena all cross-dressing in the Greek myths, Thor and Odin disguising themselves as women in the Norse myths, and Arjuna doing the same in the Mahabaratha. In modern times it is most common in romance novels, especially historicals in which a heroine often spends part of the book disguised as a boy, the hero sometimes falling for her while thinking she is a boy. Occasionally a hero will cross-dress, using a female disguise to avoid recognition or to gain access to someplace where he would never be able to go as a man. However, the trope isn’t just found in romances, as may be seen in the list below, in which I recommend stories with a variety of cross-dressing characters. Unfortunately I was only able to dredge up from the depths of my memory two book-length stories I had read in which men cross-dress, so this is mostly a list of women dressed as men. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb. One of the interwove

First book of 2020: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach (reading notes)

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I loathe movie tie-in book covers because I feel they are (often) trying to tell me how I should see the characters in the book. The edition of Deborah Moggach's These Foolish Things that I read takes it one step further and changes the title of the book into the title of the film version as well as having photos of the ensemble cast on the cover. Fortunately it has been a long while since I watched the movie, so I couldn't even remember who played whom in the film, and I think it's perfectly understandable to try to cash in on the movie's success by rebranding the book. Even with a few years between watching the film and reading the book, I could see that the story had been altered, e.g. by having the Marigold Hotel's owner/manager be single and having a romance, instead being of unhappily married to an (understandably, I thought) shrewish wife. It also conflates Sonny, the wheeler dealer behind the retireme