Monday, January 14, 2013

Brat Farrar, Josephine Tey

"Aunt Bee," said Jane, breathing heavily into her soup, "was Noah a cleverer back-room boy than Ulysses, or was Ulysses a cleverer back-room boy than Noah?"

Not the best beginning perhaps, but I really loved this mystery novel, once I got into it. In this story, a stranger named Brat Farrar enters the Ashby family, posing as Patrick Ashby, the heir to the family's fortune and grounds. Brat has been coached on everything about Patrick: his mannerisms, appearance, and every detail of his life, up to when he was thirteen, when he disappeared and was thought to have drowned himself. It looks like Brat is going to pull of this scheme, until old secrets come to light.

Brat Farrar was really suspenseful, though the writing was a bit off-putting at first. It took some getting used to. But once I did, I was pulled into this excellent story. It's one of those books where you don't really know who to side with, or who is good and who is evil. Obviously, what Brat is doing is wrong, and you don't want the whole family to tricked, but then again, you kind of sympathize with him. He's an orphan, and he's finally found a family that he loves (except for Simon, who was going to inherit Latchetts). And he certainly has plenty of doubts about what he's doing. Simon is a real jerk, and, as it turns out, much, much worse than that. Brat compares him to Timber, a horse that has killed a man with his "tricks". It's a very accurate comparison, even before Brat knows what he did.

For most of the book, it seems like Brat has succeeded, but since I read the back, I knew that something was going to go wrong. And that made it all the more suspenseful. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for the secret to reveal itself. Though short, Brat Farrar is actually kind of slow reading; even though you can't put it down, this seemingly diminutive book takes a while.

I loved the British setting; it felt realistic, and there was a bit of interesting social commentary. The plot isn't hugely original, but makes for an engaging mystery. I think it's kind of ironic that his name is "Brat", even though he's not a brat at all.

One last thing. Brat (and others) in the novel have a huge love for horses. I could kind of identify with that, because I used to (and still do) love horses. That added an interesting element to the book. It felt more real, that Brat had a passion.

Read Brat Farrar:
  • if you like mystery
  • if you like British fiction
286 pages.

Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (if I own it)!

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