RogerBW's Blog

Death on the Downs, Simon Brett 16 August 2016

2001 mystery; second in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur sleuthing). While out exploring the South Downs, Carole stumbles on a human skeleton. Jude thinks she knows who it might have been.

With the introductions over in the first book, this is the start of Carole's long slow climb out of her very proper shell, and that's really the point of the book more than the mystery: indeed, there's an extended diversion as Carole goes on a date with the most boring man in England (who finds everything "interesting").

It's all a bit daft and conventional, to the point of two bad guys having a villainous conversation in front of one of the sleuths and ending up with their realising that they have to kill her. More seriously, none of the people questioned by our heroines ever seems to think of saying "mind your own business, you interfering old bat", and this does rather spoil the character side of the book; these people really shouldn't be talking about their dark secrets (and everybody has at least one), but that's the only avenue of investigation these two amateurs have, so it's necessary for the story to work that they should be surrounded by blabbermouths.

The actual mystery is easy enough to solve once the information is given, though the tension stays low until the final scenes. It's a solid book, though I think better appreciated on audio than in text, where one might be tempted to skip. Followed by The Torso in the Town.

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