Fethering village neighbors Carole Seddon and Jude Nichol (The Torso in the Town, 2002, etc.) poke at West Sussex secrets past and present with a drollness and an edge Miss Marple never dreamed of.
Like everybody else in England, Carole once memorized the late poet Esmond Chadleigh’s “Threnody for the Lost,” written to commemorate his brother’s heroic demise in Flanders. Now that she’s been named to the Board of Trustees of Bracketts, Chadleigh’s home, she’s bored by the Board’s squabbles (the current director and her predecessor are fighting over control; everyone is hounding Esmond’s son to finish his long-overdue biography of the great man; a pushy rival biographer from America is insisting she have access to Esmond’s papers) and jealous that Jude, with nary a word of explanation, has taken sickly academic Laurence Hawker into her home. But Carole perks up when a long-dead body is disinterred from the town’s gardens. Alas, the corpse’s identity is not disinterred with him. Before it’s revealed, a fresh death will follow, and poor Carole and that pushy biographer will be trapped in a priest’s hole that houses a vital cache of letters to Esmond’s father.
This fourth in a series could have used a little tweaking, but Brett provides a wry dissection of fundraising efforts, infighting among the nonprofit set, writing styles between the wars, and friends who don’t confide in each other.