Sunday, April 3, 2011

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey

Brat has just been offered the most amazing deal of his life.  A stranger has noticed Brat's uncanny resemblance to the well-off Ashby family.  The stranger offers to teach him everything he needs to know about the Ashby family, and Brat will pose as the long disappeared and presumed dead Patrick Ashby and claim the Ashby home, Latchetts, on Patrick Ashby's 21st birthday.  At first reluctant, Brat agrees.  Brat successfully passes as Patrick Ashby, and the family is delighted to find him alive.  Expect for Simon Ashby, Patrick Ashby's twin brother.  Brat knows that Simon doesn't think he's really Patrick, but why doesn't Simon expose him?

I had never read anything by Josephine Tey before.  I was interested in reading Brat Farrar because I'd read about it on bookshelves of doom and was intrigued.  I've actually been reading this for like four months.  I'd read a bit, but then something else would come along and I'd have to read that, then I'd come back, then something else would come up.  But I finally finished it, and as it got toward the end I wouldn't have put it aside anyway because I desperately wanted to know what was going to happen.

You'd think that Brat would be the bad guy.  He is, after all, pretending to be a long-missing member of the family and claiming other people's money as his own.  You'd think it would be hard to make that character into someone sympathetic that you'd root for.  It was so conflicting!  Brat is clearly doing something very wrong, yet you want him to work things out, and Simon, who it seems is in the right, is the giant jerk.

Brat is determined to solve the mystery of Patrick Ashby.  Patrick's death was ruled a suicide, although the body was never found.  Brat is suspicious of Simon.  He thinks he knows more about Patrick's "death" than he lets on.  Brat begins to investigate and makes a gruesome and troubling discovery.  Now Brat has to make a difficult choice.  In order to set things right, he'll have to reveal what he's done and who he really is, and by doing so lose the love and trust of the family who he has come to deeply care about.

I do so love a well-written mystery, and this was great.  It was in a book called A Cup of Tey, which has two other works by Josephine Tey, so I have more delightful mysteries to look forward to.

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