What begins as a ploy to claim an inheritance ends with the impostor’s life hanging in the balance.
In this tale of mystery and suspense, a stranger enters the inner sanctum of the Ashby family posing as Patrick Ashby, the heir to the family's sizable fortune. The stranger, Brat Farrar, has been carefully coached on Patrick's mannerism's, appearance, and every significant detail of Patrick's early life, up to his thirteenth year when he disappeared and was thought to have drowned himself. It seems as if Brat is going to pull off this most incredible deception until old secrets emerge that jeopardize the imposter's plan and his life. Culminating in a final terrible moment when all is revealed, Brat Farrar is a precarious adventure that grips the reader early and firmly and then holds on until the explosive conclusion.
After my first Josephine Tey book was such a success, I had high hopes that this one would be good, too. And it WAS! I am now a Josephine Tey fan for life.1
Things that’re in Brat Farrar that you may be interested to know about:
1. horses. Lots of things about horses, but not in a way that’s confusing or boring. I mean, I was a little bored, because I don’t give a crap about raising horses or training them or whatever. But not MUCH bored.
Did you know horses murder people? Because apparently they do. One of the horses in Brat Farrar killed a dude and tried to kill, like, three more. I feel like this is an episode of Midsomer Murders somewhere.
2. secret identities! Brat, the protagonist, is pretending to be someone he isn’t, and it’s very tense and exciting. Will they find out? Will he be stuck all his life as another person? etc. etc.
I also just liked Brat himself, even without the mysterious identity tacked on. He’s very quiet and straight-forward (for all that he’s pretending to be another person) and he really loves horses. I rooted for him the whole time.
3. mysterious disappearance/suicide of a twin. Twins are interesting no matter where they are, but ESPECIALLY in murder mysteries for some reason. And doubly so when one of them’s the (potential) murder victim. Stick a twin in a book and it is automatically better by a factor of 10.
4. plot points that seem like one mystery trope but actually turn out to be a different one (or no trope at all). I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the plot twists before they happened; it was a lot of fun!
Turns out I DID guess the solution, way back in the beginning of the book. Since I wasn’t ever sure of it until the end, however, I didn’t even mind.
5. family and finding a home for yourself! And many other lovely things which balance out the horribleness that is a small child’s death.
Also there is pseudo-incest, which made me very uncomfortable. But at least they get a happy ending!
I LOVED Brat Farrar and I can’t wait to read all the rest of JT’s books. Yay!
Read: October 6-11, 2014
- something of a relief since I’d started to run out of golden age mystery authors to read and I desperately needed something close to a Dorothy L. Sayers. JT is kind of a DLS only without the upper-class detective angle. ↩