RogerBW's Blog

The Stabbing in the Stables, Simon Brett 06 September 2016

2006 mystery; seventh in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur sleuthing). Jude's been asked to extend her healing practice to a horse; but she doesn't expect to find the co-owner of the stables stabbed to death. Obviously it was the local "Horse Ripper", caught in the act. Or was it a jealous husband?

In this series, this is the Book of Dysfunctional Marriages. The victim has been sleeping with any woman who'll have him, Jude's client is unhappy with her rich but domineering husband, there's a local property developer and his trophy wife, and even the marriage of Carole's son starts to look a bit rocky. (No, Brett was apparently not going through a divorce while writing this.)

There's a fair bit of technical detail about horses, the accuracy of which I'm unqualified to judge, but otherwise this is very much a series entry: Jude and Carole go and talk to people, those people spill all their secrets, and eventually they work out whodunnit. (And who the Horse Ripper is, too.) This isn't entirely obvious, but the alert reader will certainly solve the mysteries before the answers are revealed.

This story doesn't try to go much outside the lines the previous books have laid down. Carole continues to be conventional and spiky, though she does take a more active role than usual; Jude continues to be friendly to the downtrodden. What's new, as in each book, is the supporting cast, mostly horrible, but in some cases sympathetic at the same time, which is a tricky thing to pull off and I applaud Brett for managing it. This is a decent continuation of the series but certainly not worth seeking out on its own.

Followed by Death Under the Dryer.

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