Weldisham, a rural village recently tarted up by London nabobs longing for a place to weekend in the country with all the mod cons, is in for a bit of a shock when Carole Seddon, from the neighboring village of Fethering, takes a walk on the Downs, seeks shelter in a derelict barn during a storm, and discovers two bags full of cleanly picked bones. Whose? The regulars at the Hare and Hounds suggest they might be those of Detective Sergeant Lennie Baylis’s mum, who walked out on her abusive husband years back. Or of Graham Forbes’s first wife, who left with him for a posting in Kuala Lumpur, where she supposedly ran off with a university professor. Or of young Tamsin Lutteridge, who despite extreme inertia from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, has vanished. Soon enough, Carole’s chum and amateur-sleuthing companion Jude finds Tamsin, leaving Carole to fend off an unwanted suitor, offend prizewinning former char Pauline and her menacing son Brian, and discover yet another dilapidated barn that acted as a repository for those old bones. Gossip, innuendo, quaffs at the pub, arson, another death, and a last-chapter cargo of drugs, thugs from the south, and three Weldisham ne’er-do-wells out to conquer the town—all come into play before Carole contemplates life beside a publican and Jude decides Ireland might just be her cuppa.
Occasionally witty, but Brett’s send-up of the congenial village mystery needs more companionable protagonists than self-effacing Carole and cryptic Jude (The Body on the Beach, 2000).