RogerBW's Blog

Blood at the Bookies, Simon Brett 14 September 2016

2008 mystery; ninth in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur sleuthing). Jude drops into the local betting shop to take shelter from a sudden hailstorm; another customer staggers out, and turns up stabbed in an alley nearby.

He turns out to have been a Polish immigrant, and the people of Fethering are ready to write it off as Foreigners' Problems. But even his sister, who's come over for the formalities and starts looking into the matter, doesn't know what he would have been doing in Fethering, or anything about the "Fifi" he mentioned with his dying breath.

Carole's main activity here is looking into the regulars at the betting shop, which she inevitably regards as a Den of Vice, and of course her errors will be corrected. (There's even the start of a friendship, though it's quietly dropped from future books.) Jude looks into a tenuous connection with the local university, and particularly Andy Constant the terribly cool Lecturer in Drama Studies – another of Brett's horrible people, but one with a certain superficial charm to him. There's also a side note at a truly ghastly "old-fashioned country pub".

It is unfortunate that the sister, an aspiring journalist, should talk in broken English (not like any Pole I've met in the UK, whose English is generally rather better than that of their hosts); and the mystery itself is not at all hard to solve, in spite of several well-placed red herrings, to the point that I became impatient with the protagonists not spotting something really rather obvious. As often before with Brett, things get started very slowly, but the second half is much better-paced.

Still worth reading, but perhaps the stencil is starting to get a little worn. Followed by The Poisoning in the Pub.

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