If someone’s prone to suicide, is it OK to lend a helping hand?
Fennel Whittaker tried to kill herself in a Pimlico flat a few years back. Her sister Chervil found her and called on their dad to hush the matter up. So when she’s discovered with her wrists slashed, a suicide note beside her, in one of the yurts due to open soon as a therapy spa on the family’s West Sussex estate, most everyone, including the police, thinks that she finally managed to do herself in. But Jude, the Fethering healer who’d been treating her, disagrees, insisting that her client had been feeling quite chipper. Along with her neighbor Carole, Jude had witnessed Fennel’s outburst at the Cornelian Gallery’s private showing of Denzil Willoughby’s conceptual art, when she seemed to be blaming him for an obscure past misdeed. Perhaps Fennel died by his hand, not her own. Other possible suspects include Chervil, whose boyfriend, the son of Bonita the gallery owner, once romanced Fennel; the girls’ mum, who seems relieved that Fennel’s fragile psyche will no longer be her problem; and whoever it is who took Fennel’s mobile phone from the crime scene, obviously to delete an incriminating message. There’ll be a disastrous outing on the sea and news of a long-thwarted love before the culprit is unmasked.
Brett’s usual cozy charm and flashes of wit (Bones Under the Beach Hut, 2011, etc.) are nowhere in evidence here. Perhaps it’s time to retire the Fethering series and start something fresh.