Saturday, 22 July 2017

The Herring Seller's Apprentice by L C Tyler

The Herring Seller's Apprentice by L.C. Tyler
First published in the UK by Macmillan in 2007.

Where to buy this book:
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How I got this book:
Swapped for at the book exchange at Camping Casteillets, Ceret, France

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ethelred Tressider is a writer with problems. His latest novel is going nowhere, a mid-life crisis is looming and he's burdened by the literary agent he probably deserves: Elsie Thirkettle, who claims to enjoy neither the company of writers nor literature of any kind. And as if things weren't bad enough for Ethelred, his ex-wife, Geraldine, is reported missing when her Fiat is found deserted near Ethelred's Sussex home. The disappearance soon becomes a murder investigation and there is no shortage of suspects, including Geraldine's sister, bank manager and former partner, Rupert. Geraldine was a woman with debts. Soon the nosy, chocoloate-chomping Elsie has bullied Ethelred into embarking upon his own investigation, but as their enquiries proceed, she begins to suspect that her client's own alibi is not as solid as he claims.

I chose The Herring Seller's Apprentice by L C Tyler from a limited English language selection at a French campsite book exchange so was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed the read. Cosy mystery stories aren't my usual fare, but my eye was caught by the great title.

The herring seller in question is the wonderfully named Ethelred Hengist Tressider, general hack writer by trade whose most popular book series is crime fiction, hence the fish moniker - he sells red herrings! When Ethelred's ex-wife is found dead under mysterious circumstances, his literary agent Elsie desperately tries to persuade him to undertake an amateur sleuth hunt for her killer. Ethelred would far rather leave all that to the police who seem to already have their ducks neatly in a row.

The mystery itself is nicely plotted with some interesting twists and turns. It's not too difficult to figure out - even I managed - but the ending is satisfying. I know the Sussex area where The Herring Seller's Apprentice is set so got the local references. However, what really made this novel for me was the first person narration which has lots of black humour and is very funny. Ethelred explains elements of his crime writing craft as we go along and I loved the clever way theory melded with its practice. Knowing comments such a second Point Of View introduction being over-obviously flagged to the reader with A Very Different Font rang so true and the drippingly sarcastic descriptions are great fun. Poor Elsie!

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by L C Tyler / Crime fiction / Books from England

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