In an effort to rejuvenate his flagging career, crime novelist Ethelred Tressider decides to set his new book in Egypt and embarks on a ‘research trip’ with his literary agent, Elsie Thirkettle, in tow. No sooner has their cruise on the Nile begun, however, than an attempt is made on Ethelred’s life.
When the boat’s engine explodes and a passenger is found bloodily murdered, suspicion falls on everyone aboard – including a third-rate private eye, two individuals who may or may not be undercover police, and Ethelred himself. As the boat drifts out of control, though, it seems that events are being controlled by a party far more radical than anyone could have guessed.
Herring on the Nile is an ingenious mystery, and a darkly funny tribute to Agatha Christie and the golden age of crime fiction.
I’ve been looking forward to reading LC Tyler’s Herring on the Nile for some time now and although I’ve had it on the “to be read” shelf for a couple of months or so I decided yesterday was the day – a very hot summer’s day, armed with a glass of chilled white wine (Pouilly–Fumé for those interested in that sort of thing) and a comfortable chair – evoking memories, page by page, of a dusty Egyptian landscape with no possible escape from the harsh sun. It’s the closest I’ll get to Egypt at the moment as I sit precariously perched on a Welsh hillside!
With the obvious comparison to the late great Agatha Christie aside – this is after all an updated version of the classic Death on the Nile”, Tyler has written an incredibly light and entertaining book that not only has that old fashioned feel about it but ingeniously brought bang up to date with the threat to holiday makers in Egypt and the obligatory terrorism angle!
Herring on the Nile serves as my introduction to the Ethelred Tressider series, a title I found delightfully infectious and entertaining throughout. The humour was as dry as the Saharan desert and frankly just up my street! I couldn’t stop laughing from beginning to end and should I ever get the chance to interview Len Tyler I now have a list of questions I know he’ll be able to answer (reference to the numerous newspaper interviews Ethelred has to endure throughout the book).
The narrative is heavily influenced by dialogue from start to finish and makes for a very quick read and although I would have liked to see a little less dialogue – I can’t unfortunately compare “Nile” to his earlier novels – it was so well written I had to remind myself I wasn’t actually eavesdropping on the Egyptian paddle steamer!
“Elsie, I use Google all the time. As far as Egypt is concerned, don’t worry. I’m not going now. I’m about to phone up and cancel the trip. I’ll set the next book in Pembrokeshire or somewhere instead. Pembrokeshire is quite interesting in November.”
“I don’t think so, Ethelred. Sadly, there’s no market for books about Pembrokeshire these days. More to the point you didn’t tell me that the word ‘luxury’ featured twenty seven times in the description of the Khedive. There seems to be staff whose sole duty is to top up the ice in your drink. The general picture I’m getting here is the Ritz with a paddle attached to the back.”
Characterisation is excellent and the one thing I found different to a lot of crime novels “out there” was the fact that the murderer (or murderers) could have been anyone! Normally, within the first few chapters, you have a feeling about one or two suspects but never seven or eight – this made the book even more enjoyable and along with copious amounts of red herrings you were never quite sure who the culprit was.
Despite the fractious working relationship between Ethelred and Elsie – author and literary agent – their partnership reminded me of a happily married couple celebrating forty years of wedded bliss! They never agreed on anything, were often at odds with each other and I guess never will – until the Nile runs dry that is!
So there we have it. An incredibly light summer read, best served with a nice chilled white or a fruity Pimms, Herring on the Nile – despite the murder – will have you yearning for a sojourn up the Nile taking in everything the Egyptian landscape has to offer. Highly infectious, thoroughly entertaining and most definitely recommended. Take a bow LC Tyler, you’ve gained a fan in this reviewer.
1 Response » to “Herring on the Nile by LC Tyler – Book Review”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.