This classic cozy mystery is number 17 in the Fethering series. I imagine it is representative of the entire series, although I haven’t read any others, so this review might be a generic one for the others. You don’t get to #17 without a successful formula, and this does indeed seem formulaic.
A dead body turns up in a cute, touristy, retro cake shop in Sussex where the waitresses wear classic black and white maid costumes right out of an Agatha Christie novel. Then it disappears. The body shows up again a few weeks later floating in the sea and the police are finally involved, although their appearance is brief. Since the body is tied with rope, suicide seems unlikely, but the Sussex police apparently don’t bother doing murder investigations. Have no fear, Jude and Carole are on the case.
The cake shop is about to be sold but a pretentious codger in the form of a retired Commodore insists on forming a committee to turn it into a community restaurant run by volunteers. Most of the book is spent showing what an arrogant twit the commodore is, revealing the transparent bigotry and dishonesty of his social climbing wife, and the ludicrous competition for committee leadership by a local bureaucrat-type who heads every other committee in town.
Meanwhile, Jude and Carole (mostly Jude) have no trouble getting everyone connected with the body to reveal all even though not one ever contacted the police. Even the murderer eventually confesses to them without qualms. It seems that telling everything, no matter how personal or embarrassing or even incriminating, to a pair of busybodies is the most natural thing in quaint English villages.
Brett has fun poking fun at human nature and takes us along for the short, mildly amusing ride. This won’t satisfy hard core mystery fans, but you could find worse ways to kill a couple of evenings.
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