I read this Christmas-themed murder mystery shortly before Christmas last year. It's nice on occasion to read books that reflect a current season or holiday as it helps to get you into the spirit of things... especially when you're having a hot South African Christmas after having years of cold (and occasional snowy) English Christmases.
Jude and Carole, our unconventional amateur sleuths, find death on their doorstep when the body of a young woman is found in the cinders of the new boutique shop in the village of Fethering. The Police think the death was an accident but when it is revealed that the victim was shot, our intrepid sleuths' noses start twitching.
There is a host of interesting and nasty characters in this novel and Simon Brett's writing appears to be taking a turn for the contemporary. I've noticed in this and the previous novel that certain expletives have crept in and that a few unattractive loutish characters are being included. Is Mr Brett trying to reflect current day reality a little more, I wonder? Personally, I could do without the extra grit and grime (however small it may be) in the narrative but it doesn't detract from the overall style of the series, which is a nod to golden age mysteries.
I have been a fan of the Fethering mysteries for a few years so this book did not disappoint but I do feel that the last couple of books lacked a certain warmth. I have the next instalment lined up and look forward to revisiting Fethering soon. If you're fond of English mysteries with a cosy feel to them and with intelligent prose and sympathetic characters, I heartily recommend this series.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan for kindly providing a review copy.