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Murder in the Museum by Simon Brett

Murder in the Museum (2003)

by Simon Brett

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Someone gave this book-on-CD to me thinking I would like the setting among philanthropists and academics on the board of a the estate of a fictitous and very minor contemporary of [[Tolkien]], [[Chesterton]], and [[Lewis]]. The business of academia and research was correct, by and large: the figure who publishes one small discovery over and over again, the grand project that is never finished (and probably never will be), and the rivalries, jealousies and power struggles. However the characters of the academics fall into unfortunate stereotypes (the vain and brilliant professor who beds pretty research assistants, the brash and pushy female professor who is, all in all, an weak and unpleasant person). This is a bit like reading mysteries where the main character is a stereotype of a judge or a cop: one longs for a more realistic book about a closely drawn individual with a job.

The mystery part of the book, centered on the discovery of a skeleton in the estate garden, is good. There are a wealth of suspects with sound motives, a good red herring, and a surprising denouement. (The chapters where a female protagonist discovers, then gets locked into, a secret room was borrowed from [[Mary Robert Rinehart]], who did it first (and better) in [The Circular Staircase].) I give the author point for chosing the board of a very minor charity as the setting for a mystery and the book was good summer reading. I recommend it if you are in the mood for an amiable mystery without a lot of dark grit or deep thoughts on the evils of the human heart.

The reader of my book-on-CD (not the author) did a fine job giving the characters individual, consistent voices (with the exception of a character from New York who keeps sliding into a Chicago accent). I did have to pay attention to remember which of the two female protagonists was speaking, but I think that was a matter of characterization, not voice acting (i.e. the neat one is never seen straightening things, or some other consistent mental or physical cue to remind the reader "ah, this is the neat one". There were plenty of settings (a pub, a private Victorian home preserved as a museum, the habits of less exacting fellow characters) which might have given her an opportunity to exercise this trait.))

Finally, as this book suggests, it is true that an opening line of, "Ah, aren't you the Dr. So-and-so who wrote the brilliant article on (obscure topic) in (long German title)" will work to break the ice with most professors -- if it is a) true b) your German is correct c) you can answer followup questions. Most academics will listen politely to what you have to say after this, although many will suspect they are being buttered up (unless they are truly vain: some are.)

-Kushana ( )
  Kushana | Jul 2, 2010 |
Didn't finish listening to this book. I quit at the half point because it was slow, stuffy and just boring. ( )
  Kathy89 | Feb 25, 2009 |
I was disappointed with this book, the first one I read death on the downs was very good, but this one was very hard to stay with ( )
  artcroswell | Mar 4, 2008 |
An Audio CD produced by ISIS Audio books, 8 hrs 30 mins, read by the author. I have already read the book, soon after it came out, but that didn't prevent my enjoyment of this reading, listening in 20 min gobbets driving to and from work. Bracketts, once the home of poet Esmund Chadleigh, is an Elizabethan house, now a museum devoted to the remembrance of Chadleigh. Carole Seddon, retired public servant, becomes a trustee on the board of Bracketts, but board meetings are complicated by the discovery of a skeleton in the kitchen garden. Carole and her neighbour Jude become involved when there is a shooting in the house car park. Obviously Bracketts has secrets some one is keen to keep hidden. I am an addict of Simon Brett's writing, converted by reading the Charles Paris series, but I also think he is a very skilful reader. ( )
  smik | Apr 28, 2007 |
I loved this. Having only read one or two Bretts before, I wasn’t sure I liked him, but this was quintessentially British and very well done. One thing that did grate after a while was the constant mention of Carole’s middle class ways, habits & upbringing. Yeah, we get it. She’s rigid & hidebound, now let’s get on with it. Bah.

The mystery was set up beautifully; a tight clan of people who have come to loathe one another is introduced. Several suspects and victims among them. Motives are revealed and we have sympathy for some, none for others. Nice work. ( )
  Bookmarque | Mar 26, 2007 |
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To Norman and Hilary
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Carole Seddon was good at meetings, but only when she was running them.
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Fairly interesting. Calm, not intense or too rough. Abit of trite foul language at the end.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330490818, Paperback)

Bracketts, an Elizabethan house near the town of Fethering, is about to be turned into a museum. Once the home of celebrated poet Esmund Chadleigh, it has now been decided that it should become a shrine to his life and poetry. But the transition from house to museum is running far from smoothly. For a sudden discovery is made: Buried in the kitchen garden is a human skeleton. And before too long, there is a second body, not yet cold. Murder is no longer just a dreadful possibility, but a certainty. It is a case that will test the sleuthing powers of Board member Carole Seddon and her friend Jude as never before ...Praise for Simon Brett and the "Fethering Mysteries": 'A good, juicy, very English murder mystery.' - "Daily Mail". 'A crime novel in the traditional style, with delightful little touches of humour and vignettes of a small town and its bitchy inhabitants.' - "Sunday Telegraph".

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:14 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The life of writer Esmond Chadleigh is celebrated in Bracketts House. However, despite efforts of the trustees, most of Chadleigh's work remains out of print, leaving the author out-of-sight and Bracketts out-of-funds. An American literature professor with a big bankroll can keep Bracketts running, in exchange for assistance on her Chadleigh biography. But the trustees are afraid the biographer only wants to root out the skeletons in Chadleigh's closet-- especially after uncovering one in his garden. Now Carole and Jude must risk tarnishing the sterling reputation of a beloved author to learn whether his sword was mightier than his pen.… (more)

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