It seemed such a long time since hapless crime writer Ethelred Tressider and his chocolate loving literary agent Elsie Thirkettle found themselves entangled in criminal doings, and I had begun to think that I might never see them again.
I was delight when I found that they had returned, in Crooked Herring, but when I opened the book the very first page told me that things had changed, and that this might be a last farewell.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but if it is it’s a fabulous final act.
Henry Holiday explained that he couldn’t remember exactly what had happened on New Year’s Eve, because he had partied rather too hard. But he was sure that he had killed another crime writer – Crispin Vynall.
He couldn’t – or wouldn’t – explain how, why or where. He wanted Ethelred to apply his understanding of crime and his investigative skills to find out. Ethelred was flattered to have been chosen from so many other possible candidates in the CWA, and so he didn’t stop to think why Henry had chosen him.
After all, Elsie pointed out, solving the case would win him such kudos, and some great reviews.
She wasn’t at his side for this investigation – and it wasn’t entirely clear whether that was her decision or his – but she did offer advice in numerous phone calls and an occasional lunch meeting.
Her actions and her input were documented in extracts from her diary. That was a significant change. Elsie was a little more ruthless that I remembered, and Ethelred a little more his own man.
As Ethelred investigated he became entangled with the wife of the supposed victim, he learned about sock-puppets and the manipulation of Amazon reviews, he learned even more about certain members of the CWA. And then he found himself in serious trouble.
Could – or would – Elsie save him?
Or could this really be the end?
It’s definitely the end of something – and there’s a jaw-dropping surprise at the end of this book – but it may not the end of everything.
Time will tell.
The plotting is very, very clever. There were times when I thought I knew – and sometimes I did but there were as many times when I was wonderfully surprised. The way that Amazon Reviews and the CWA were used was fabulous. And the balance of plot, wit and character was very well done.
The details are lovely, and the whole is a wonderful entertainment. Clever crime writing and wonderful wit!
This book stands alone, it’s my favourite to date; but if you like the sound of this one you really should read all five Ethelred and Elsie books.