The Knocker on Death’s Door— The Tenth Felse Novel

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The word knocker can have several meanings. It can refer to a person who knocks on a door, or it can refer to an implement on the door, in this case a church door. In Ellis Peter’s tenth novel, and the best so far in the series, it, and many other things are in fact double entendres. Indeed, many things are not as they seem in this novel. There is a church door which isn’t, and a Norman family which is, well sort of, and a crime which seems to have no link with more recent murders, and yet it must. Sometimes a detective must collect little shards of evidence, and then try to put them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Even the littlest shred of evidence may be the key clue to solving the case.

This mystery is strictly a George Felse mystery. It doesn’t involve the rest of the family at all, even tangentially. It is 202 pages (and one wonders how it is that Peters managed to write all these novels never longer than 202 pages, and never shorter than 192) was written in 1970, and what’s interesting about it is many things. For one thing it deals with family tragedies in an interesting. George Felse may be good detective, but he’s an even better human being, following the spirit and not just the letter of the law, especially when it comes to dealing with broken people and broken hearts.

As with most other novels in this series there is some romance along with the murder mystery, and as always ‘things are not quite as they seem’, except of course in the case of George where ‘what you see is what you get’. The plot of this novel will surprise you. Just when you think you’ve figured it out well before the ending, it turns out that you may have gotten the motif right but the murderer wrong, or vice versa.

And I especially liked the religious angle on this story. A person is found dead at the church’s door reaching out for the door knocker and presumably sanctuary. There is a tale that there had been a monk found in this same posture, in this same spot. Is history repeating itself, or is this a copy cat crime? And what has this to do with the local aristocracy— the Macsen-Martel clan? Inquiring minds want to know.

If you need a break from pressing concerns, and like a good, but short, and fast paced tale, then this book is just the ticket— well written, intriguing, and it keeps you guessing until almost the very end. And best yet— you can buy it for a penny plus shipping on Amazon. What more could one want?


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