Ethelred Tressider, a crime-writer whose success is measured more by the number of books written than by any actual acclaim, has been involved in some form or another in four mystery investigations to date. Involved is the appropriate word, as the truth has generally been discovered despite rather than due to his (and his agent Elsie’s) efforts. So what on earth would make him undertake the role of private investigator?
Well, basically for a good review. Henry Holiday, book reviewer for the national press, is convinced that he has killed somebody – probably Crispin Vynall, author of crime novels that are both nastier in content and immeasurably more successful that Ethelred’s output. But with no body to be found – indeed, with no hint of a crime to be found – it’s only when a badly spelled death threat arrives of his doormat does Ethelred think that he’s getting somewhere. Meanwhile Elsie is more concerned with the dreadful reviews that Ethelred has been receiving on Amazon. They can’t have anything to do with the case – can they?
The fifth – and most recent – of the Ethelred and Elsie books from Len Tyler. I’ve reviewed the first four here:
In fact, I’ve read all of these this year, throwing my personal ethos of pacing myself with a series out of the window. Why make an exception in this case? Because they’re such fun to read, with clever plots and endearing characters, and different from anything else that you’ll read.
Don’t get me wrong, these are properly clued mystery novels – in fact, there’s a clue as to what’s going on that nobody seemed to mention – but there’s something extra in these tales. And it’s usually something that I can’t even hint at without threatening to give the game away. So what can I say?
Well, while the clever mystery plot gets underway, we get a few digs at Amazon reviews, at book reviewers, at book agents, at book awards and at a certain recent “scandal” in the book world. And, as ever, the role of the amateur detective vs the professional police. Elsie’s involvement in the book, while small in the opening sequences, grows in importance – or not, really – and the final chapters are extremely effective and, in a certain sense, final.
I do hope this isn’t the end of the road for Ethelred and Elsie – it can’t be easy to come up with the ideas for these tales – but in the meantime, L C Tyler’s other series featuring John Grey will be returning in January with A Masterpiece Of Corruption (following on from A Cruel Necessity), and as I’ve been sent a lovely shiny copy to review, that’ll be along soon. But in the meantime, why not go out and read this one? Highly Recommended.