Farewell My Herring (2021) by L C Tyler

Unsuccessful writers need whatever income they can get, which is why Ethelred Tressider and his agent, the inimitable Elsie Thirkettle find themselves taking part in a creative writing course in the middle of nowhere. Fell Cottage, surrounded by countryside and the occasional sheep, is rumoured to be an MI6 (or MI5 or CIA) safe house and it would seem to be an ideal choice. Of course the isolation can backfire a tad if the snow doesn’t stop falling…

Cut off from the outside world, with the small staff, a few fellow writers and a couple of early-arriving guests for company – well, the last thing you’d need would be a murder, wouldn’t it? As Ethelred and Elsie get roped into leading the investigation, can Elsie keep her focus as they hunt a murderer? After all, the hotel seems to be running out of chocolate…

This is the ninth book in the Ethelred and Elsie series, and as ever, it’s an entertaining treat. Not entirely sure about the title, as this is about as far from Raymond Chandler as you could get while still having a murder in the plot. It’s about a traditional a country-house-surrounded-by-snow mystery as you could get, but as ever, Len Tyler has some clever ideas up his sleeve.

First and foremost, his narrators/heroes are on fine form as ever. Elsie has threatened to overshadow Ethelred in the past, but he more than holds his own here. I do wonder if it is perhaps time to shake up the status quo a tad to put Ethelred on the front foot – surely he must have a successful book in him somewhere, that would confuse her – but that doesn’t detract from two of the most entertaining and genuinely amusing narrators in crime fiction. I think it’s fairly safe to say that Len is a master at comedic crime – I’d strongly recommend tracking down some of his short stories too – and I love the way that the book is littered with what seem to be anecdotes about his successes and disappointments in publishing. Oh, and the fact that you shouldn’t pick a fight with M W Craven…

There are misdirections a-plenty on show here, and the theme of actions occurring in threes makes a good structure for pacing the plot. There’s a nice miscellany of suspects, motives all over the place, and a conclusion that, as always, doesn’t exactly play out as you (or Ethelred and Elsie) might expect.

Farewell My Herring is out on Thursday 22nd April in hardback and ebook. Many thanks to Len Tyler for arranging a review copy for me – I’m already looking forward to the next one (and the next John Grey title as well…)

2 comments

  1. A great review. Thanks! Another must have. Tyler really is a master of the comic mystery. The thing is, so far I’ve read only the 1st and 3rd in the series. Sometimes I really don’t know what’s wrong with me.

    Like

  2. I used to live in Great Yarmouth – not something to brag about – though it was in the 1930s the biggest herring fishing port in the UK.

    That is a useless historical fact, however in this case it is worth pointing out that Great Yarmouth must be a good 200 miles away from anywhere called Fell Cottage

    What on earth has this book got to do with herrings? Were they red?

    Like

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