Mrs Melita Pargeter is not one for diets – far from it, as she has always enjoyed the finer things in life. But when Kim Thurrock, the wife of one of the late Mr Pargeter’s associates, is desperate to lose some weight due to said associate returning from a stay at Her Majesty’s pleasure, she decides to show moral support at least, and accompany her to Brotherton Hall, a healthy living and weight loss centre.
Thankfully, the Hall is run by another of Mr Pargeter’s old associates, and he is more than welcome to provide Mrs Pargeter with a “special” diet while she supports her friends. However, when she takes a midnight stroll and stumbles upon the body of a customer being wheeled away into the night, Mrs Pargeter realises that something dangerous is taking place at Brotheron Hall, something she is determined to get to the bottom of.
As I’ve said before, I’ve deliberately tried to have a month of reading only great books – Awesome April, so to speak, to make up for Mediocre March – but that doesn’t mean every read has to be a cast-iron classic. Sometimes, one needs a little aperitif, something light and breezy that will pass the time in a pleasurable way and not hang around. When I spotted that Joffe Books had reissued the first four Mrs Pargeter titles, this seemed an ideal choice. I’ve read the first three and the last two – see the list below – and I’ve enjoyed all of them. They’re not exactly deeply plotted mysteries, but with endearing characters and a good sense of humour running through them, they are always a fun read.
This one is no exception. The villain is hardly a surprise, but that doesn’t particularly matter. The plot chugs along nicely, with the reader having a fun time from chapter to chapter. Mrs Pargeter is, to me, Simon Brett’s most endearing creation – I’ve always found Charles Paris annoyingly self-destructive, whereas Mrs P knows exactly what her place is in the world and, oddly given her past and associates, has a strong moral streak.
That said, there is one clumsy plot aspect here – once a character is named early in the story, it is inevitable they will be eventually involved somehow, but it just seemed unnecessary. It’s not as if Mrs P needed more motivation to bring the villain to justice. I just didn’t really see what this added to the story.
Regardless, this is a fun, quick read and if you’re a fan of Simon Brett’s work and haven’t checked out Mrs Pargeter yet, you really should.
The Mrs Pargeter Mysteries: