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Death on the Downs (2001)

by Simon Brett

Series: Fethering (2)

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2891079,620 (3.36)19
It wasn't the rain that upset Carole Seddon during her walk on the West Sussex Downs, nor was it the dilapidated barn in which she sought shelter. What upset her was the human skeleton she discovered there, neatly packed into two blue fertilizer bags. Thus begins the mystery for strait-laced Carole and her more laid-back neighbor Jude, whose investigation takes them to the small hamlet of Weldisham. There gossips quickly identify the corpse as Tamsin Lutteridge, a young woman who disappeared from the village months before, after becoming involved with several practitioners of alternative medicine. But Detective Sergeant Baylis will confirm nothing, and Tamsin's mother is adamant that her daughter is still alive. Others believe a serial killer is on the loose. As Jude sets out to find Tamsin-either dead or alive-Carole digs deeper into Weldisham's history and the bitter relationships simmering beneath the village's gentle facade.… (more)
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» See also 19 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Like murder mystery popcorn. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
I decided to give this series another chance. I'm still not sure I should have. This book, while being marginally better than the first in the series, is still not a winner for me. The main character is just too hard to love, as she comes across as rigid and prejudice. References are made by her in regards to the lower class trying to live above their "station" in life. I also felt as if the author has a hard time thinking of plausible plot scenarios that would end in his character gleaning the needed information to solve the mystery. In both this book and the previous one, you are introduced to the cast of characters while the main character eavesdrops in a pub for hours then she precedes to ask pointed questions of others while they seemingly don't get suspicious of her nosiness. I'm just not sure I'll make it to the next book in this series. ( )
  BookishHooker | Dec 16, 2019 |
Perhaps written in a hurry.
  Roarer | Nov 17, 2019 |
I enjoyed this audiobook, but after reading Louise Penny, Jacqueline Winspear, PD James and Donna Leon it was a disappointment. They are such masters and Simon Brett just couldn't hold a candle. Fun escape, but not the depth of character or sense of place I've experienced with the others. I have liked these in the past. Maybe I just need more time between reading the greats and the runners up. ( )
  njcur | Sep 30, 2015 |
There are some mystery stories that you treat like a puzzle: you guess and deduct and try to figure out who the criminal and motive and method are. And when you get to the end, you either feel incredibly smug or quite foolish, because it all seems obvious in retrospect. And then there are others where it just doesn't matter, because the mystery is just the framing for the story.

Simon Brett's books fall into the latter case. All of the Fethering books that I have read follow precisely the same pattern: the two main characters poke around, they don't end up figuring out who the villain is, one stupidly steps into the villain's hands and is captured and subjected to monologuing, and the other comes to the rescue. But you know what? I don't care, because the books are just too much fun.

My first encounter with Simon Brett was via the BBC radio show, Foul Play, in which Simon Brett writes an incredibly ridiculous spoof play of a murder mystery and hosts a show in which he invites two murder mystery writers to interactively "investigate". My favorite moment was when PD James got in a bit of a battle with him over procedure. Brett's humour and general genre-savviness carry through to his Fethering books, just as they do to his Charles Paris series.

The books star two daring over-fifty dames: Carole Seddon, a practical, introverted, rather pinched spinster, and her vivacious, impulsive, empathetic, bohemian, and constantly entertaining friend Jude. The two live outside the small town of Fethering, a village that is constantly fighting off the invasion of middle-class suburbanites. The town itself is full of color, and the background characters are entertaining and cynically drawn, rather in the fashion of Jane Austen. Carole and Jude have a knack for stumbling into bodies, and quite fancy themselves as investigators. In actuality, they are rather rotten at it, as they have never yet actually managed to finger the murderer, but again, I really don't care. The mysteries tend to be quite improbable. (For example, one of them--don't worry, not this one--involves a revenge murder after someone insults a butcher's technique.) What wins me over is the entertaining small-town atmosphere, the zany characters, and Simon Brett's humour.

So bring on the predictable and/or ridiculous plots. I don't care. I'll eat them up. ( )
1 vote page.fault | Sep 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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The bones didn't look old, but then what did Carole Seddon know about bones?
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It wasn't the rain that upset Carole Seddon during her walk on the West Sussex Downs, nor was it the dilapidated barn in which she sought shelter. What upset her was the human skeleton she discovered there, neatly packed into two blue fertilizer bags. Thus begins the mystery for strait-laced Carole and her more laid-back neighbor Jude, whose investigation takes them to the small hamlet of Weldisham. There gossips quickly identify the corpse as Tamsin Lutteridge, a young woman who disappeared from the village months before, after becoming involved with several practitioners of alternative medicine. But Detective Sergeant Baylis will confirm nothing, and Tamsin's mother is adamant that her daughter is still alive. Others believe a serial killer is on the loose. As Jude sets out to find Tamsin-either dead or alive-Carole digs deeper into Weldisham's history and the bitter relationships simmering beneath the village's gentle facade.

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