RogerBW's Blog

Mrs Pargeter's Plot, Simon Brett 25 September 2018

1996 mystery; fifth in Brett's Mrs Pargeter series (amateur sleuthing). Mrs Pargeter is having a house built, but a body turns up in the wine cellar, her builder is arrested, and he won't say anything to defend himself. What's going on?

It's all because of a cunning criminal scheme, of course, if perhaps a needlessly baroque one; the connection between the plot itself and the murder-and-framing is tenuous at best, and Mrs Pargeter's "deduction" feels more like having the answer handed to her by divine inspiration, which would at least account for her extremely stupid behaviour later.

But as usual with Brett the point is not the plot but the horrible people. Here it's mostly the villains, who get a surprising amount of time on the page, though plenty of other targets have walk-on parts.

A B plot concerns the terrifying villain Fossilface O'Donahue, just out of prison, and trying to make "restitooshun" (sic, always) for all the bad things he did. But his mind doesn't work quite like other people's, and his gifts are distinctly unwelcome.

The writing is very pedestrian, and at times I get the feeling that Brett has an eye to the television adaptation, making it clear just where the camera should be placed and what should be visible when. (There has been no television adaptation.)

Followed by Mrs Pargeter's Point of Honour. That's the last of the original series, so I'll probably see it through. After a 16-year gap Brett added another volume in 2015 and one more in 2017; I'm certainly not planning to read those later additions.

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Previous in series: Mrs Pargeter's Pound of Flesh | Series: Mrs Pargeter | Next in series: Mrs Pargeter's Point of Honour

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