RogerBW's Blog

The Torso in the Town, Simon Brett 20 August 2016

2002 mystery; third in Brett's Fethering Mysteries series (amateur sleuthing). The couple who've just moved into the Big House in Fedborough, inland up the river from Fethering, throw a dinner party to try to get into the local social scene… which is somewhat spoiled when a limbless body is discovered in the cellar.

So clearly it's one of the previous owners of the house who dunnit, but it's not obvious at first just who the victim is, never mind the murderer. The deduction, while interestingly twisty, is not the principal concern; the real point of this book is to make snippy comments about horrible people, most of which is done through the medium of the Fedborough Festival, with its house-based art shows. Brett sticks his knife repeatedly into artistic pretensions and moral failings, a theme to which he returns later in the series.

As before, all sorts of people are far too willing to spill their intimate secrets to strangers, a recurrent structural problem in this series. It's hard to say how it might be solved, really; one of the protagonists is sympathetic and can inspire confidences, fair enough, but the other is not, and while she occasionally puts on a Home Office manner to impersonate minor officialdom, mostly people just seem to talk to her for no reason. And our heroes don't do anything else, like breaking into places to find evidence, or shadowing people, or looking through public records; they just talk.

This is the third book in a row to reach its climax with one of the pair captured and threatened by the killer. On the other hand, there is some welcome character development for Carole.

I also have trouble with the idea that a corpse can lie for three years in a cardboard box, which is rotting around it, and nobody ever detects any odour. Vg'f riraghnyyl rkcynvarq gung gur obql jnf fzbxrq gb cerirag vzzrqvngr qrpnl, ohg nalbar jub'f xrcg ovygbat sbe gbb ybat jvyy xabj gung vg qbrf riraghnyyl ebg, rfcrpvnyyl va jrg pbaqvgvbaf.

The real problem, though, is that while the crime is solved, the murderer isn't brought to justice, and as far as the world is concerned the wrong person gets the blame (though that person is at least dead). Insofar as there are required elements to a detective story, the right person being caught is pretty high on the list, and Brett didn't convince me at all of the morality of this ending.

Followed by Murder in the Museum.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: Death on the Downs | Series: Fethering Mysteries | Next in series: Murder in the Museum

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1