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by Simon Brett

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59414-890-3
Publisher: Five Star

Fethering neighbors Jude and Carole come to the aid of a publican.

Ted Crisp’s Crown and Anchor is in trouble. A motorcycle gang has taken to vrooming in and out at all hours, disturbing shopkeepers and residents along Fethering’s High Street. Recently served scallops have caused serious food poisoning. The local paper’s headlines announce that the Health Department has ordered the Crown and Anchor closed. And Dan Poke, the comedian Ted engages to inaugurate the pub’s comedy nights, is not only unfunny but insistent on reminding those present about the dodgy scallops. Could things get worse? Well, yes. When a brawl breaks out, Ray, the simple-minded lad Ted lets help out, is stabbed to death, and Ted’s long-separated wife reappears to demand a divorce and major alimony. Perhaps inspired by the Chilean chardonnay they quaff, Jude and Carole decide to set matters right. Soon they’re confronted by another death, a philandering civic-minded do-gooder, and a man with a scarred face and fewer than ten fingers. Not to worry, though. A few more nips of the chardonnay, and Jude and Carole have put Ted and his pub back in business while sparing a kind thought or two for poor Ray.

The last few Fethering mysteries (Blood at the Bookies, 2008, etc.) have lacked the usual quota of wit, gleeful satire and clever if unmemorable plotting. Alas, matters are equally tired at the pub. Even Brett devotees might want to give this installment a miss.