Ethelred Tressider, a crime writer of varying degrees of success (admittedly varying from little to none) has a new project – the biography of renowned crime writer Roger Norton Vane, creator of the popular Gascoyne television series. Admittedly, he only wrote the books that the first of umpteen series of the show was based on, not least due to his disappearance when walking in a Thai jungle twenty years ago.
The twenty-years-later anniversary service, however, has a surprise guest – Roger Norton Vane has apparently risen from the dead. As Ethelred and his agent, Elsie Thirkettle, look into the truth behind Vane’s return – after all, the biography might need re-writing – it seems that there are plenty of secrets lurking in the background. Plenty of people aren’t keen to see Vane again – but is someone going to take matters into their own hands?
Book Seven in the Ethelred and Elsie series, a series that rapidly became a must-read series for me after, well, basically after the first book. Len Tyler has such a readable relaxed writing style, with a sly sense of humour, that it’s very easy to overlook the complexity of the plot on offer. Similarly, the meta-humour that is always prevalent in these stories takes careful construction and this is no exception.
And I suppose I should congratulate Len on making this very tricky to review. For a while, I was a little surprised that it seemed to be a very straightforward mystery tale. A very enjoyable tale nonetheless, but far less… tricky that I expected it to be. And despite the fact that I know that he always has at least one trick up his sleeve, I’ll admit it, I was a little disappointed.
And then… OK, I can’t spoil it, but when you reach the conclusion, you see what he has been doing. And he did it perfectly. I can see some people being a little disappointed, but as a fan of classic mysteries (in case you couldn’t tell from the blog title), this is a work of genius. Utterly fairly clued, the truth of the matter is staring the reader in the face (well, apart from one irrelevant bit) and yet the reader won’t spot it.
Many thanks to Allison & Busby (and Len) for the review copy – it was released at the end of last month and the hardback is currently a bit of a bargain on Amazon. As with the other six books in the series:
- The Herring Seller’s Apprentice
- Ten Little Herrings
- The Herring In The Library
- Herring On The Nile
- Crooked Herring
- Cat Among The Herrings;
this is Highly Recommended.