Review: The Body on the Beach by Simon Brett

As part of the Good Reads Aussie Readers Summer Reading challenge I needed to read a book with a word related to summer in the title. As I’m using my TBR pile for the whole challenge my only option was this book with the word beach in the title as I had nothing else summer-y to read (I’m not a fan of the season so this is not surprising).

Carole Seddon is not someone I’d like to meet in real life. In her 50’s and retired from a job in the Home Office she has established a very orderly life for herself in the village of Fethering. She has a long list of rules about what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviours and seems to judge people on the most insignificant of factors. As this book opens she is walking her dog Gulliver on the beach when they discover a body. After making her way home and washing the dog Carole notifies the Police but when they look in the spot Carole has described there is no body. Being a little shocked at finding a body and at having been treated like a silly old lady by the Police, Carole takes the unusual step of talking to her new neighbour about the events.

Jude (just Jude, no surname) is the woman who has moved in next door to Carole and is her complete opposite in terms of personality. She has no set rules for acceptable behaviour as can be evidenced by her ordering large glasses of wine (sometimes at lunch time) and beating her rugs in the front garden! But though Jude isn’t ‘a Fethering sort of person at all’ she listens to Carole and doesn’t think she’s crazy so the two women embark on a friendship of sorts and decide to investigate what happened to the body they are both convinced that Carole saw. Through a series of orchestrated meetings with key players in the village they start to build up a picture of what might have gone on.

As the setting is described in a fair amount of detail the story here is slow to get going but once it does there’s a nice build up of suspense, though the plot is not terribly difficult to work out for people who’ve read a lot of crime fiction. However if English village mysteries are your thing then I think you’d really enjoy this book as Brett has done a great job of depicting the place and its various characters so that not all is as idyllic as it might first appear. Somewhat unusually for this kind of story the motive for murder and associated covering up activities is really very credible when finally revealed.

There are a further 11 books (so far) in this series and because there are hints that Carole’s very prim and proper personality might be weakening towards the end of this book I could be tempted to read another if for no other reason than to find out if she does join the human race after all. The Body on the Beach certainly has decent plotting, an intricately drawn setting and credible, if not likable, characters to recommend it as a promising start to a series.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My rating 3/5
Author website http://www.simonbrett.com/
Publisher Macmillan [2000]
ISBN 0330376969
Length 327 pages
Format mass market paperback
Book Series #1 in the Fethering series
Source I mooched it

This entry was posted in Aussie Readers Summer Reading, book review, England, Simon Brett. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Review: The Body on the Beach by Simon Brett

  1. Sue says:

    I have a soft spot for Simon Brett. I liked his seedy hero, actor Charles Paris, (and especially his theatre reviews) but I like the Fethering mysteries too, and, if I took sick, I know the Fethering books would be high on the reading list. Well written, funny and a pleasure to read – a lot to be said for that.

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  2. Kerrie says:

    They are a very quirky pair Bernadette and I enjoy the series for light cosy reading.

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  3. kathy durkin says:

    Interesting story and characters. But retired in her 50s? And “little old lady”? What hope is there for women past that age, who still have the spirit they had at 18!

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