Fedborough, just a few kilometers down the road from Fethering, is a posh little town full of antique stores, gourmet food shops, and wealthy resettled Londoners like Kim and Grant Roxby, the new owners of Pelling House, where their rather tedious dinner party is interrupted by their teenage son Harry’s discovery of a neatly dismembered woman’s body in the cellar. Who was she, and who put her there? Fortunately for the coppers, who haven’t a clue, one of the dinner guests is Fethering’s nosiest amateur sleuth, that middle-aged bohemian Jude (Death on the Downs, 2001, etc.), who bustles right over to her glum chum Carole, despondent over her breakup with the local publican, and pries open all sorts of village secrets. Who was sleeping with whom? The busiest bed seems to have belonged to Virginia, the promiscuous wife of former Pelling House owner Roddy Hargreaves, who left him a few years back. Roddy is soon found floating in the muddy Fether, the victim of a drunken misstep or a second homicide. There’ll be eavesdropping at the Coach and Horses, a walking tour of Fedborough, and some apprentice sleuthing by young Harry before Jude and Carole solve the Pelling House mystery and decide never to venture those few kilometers from Fethering again.
Genial if not memorable, with a few swipes at villages accommodating the upscale tourist market and unsubstantiated sexual assumptions. Even so, Jude and Carole hardly rise to the level of Brett’s marginal actor Charles Paris—or the sublime Mrs. P.