Herring in the Library

The Herring in the Library

When literary agent Elsie Thirkettle is invited to accompany tall but obscure crime-writer Ethelred Tressider to dinner at Muntham Court, she is looking forward to sneering at his posh friends. What she is not expecting is that, half way through the evening, her host will be found strangled in his locked study. Since there is no way that a murderer could have escaped, the police conclude that Sir Robert Muntham has killed himself. A distraught Lady Muntham, however, asks Ethelred to conduct his own investigation. Ethelred (ably hindered by Elsie) sets out to resolve a classic ‘locked room’ mystery; but is any one of the assorted guests and witnesses actually telling the truth? And can Ethelred’s account be trusted?

In the process, we meet one of Ethelred’s own creations, the fourteenth-century detective Master Thomas, who is helped in his investigations of a mediaeval crime at Muntham Court by a small and rather pushy Abbess with a taste for honey cakes . . . Is it possible that Master Thomas can shed some light on the twenty-first century case, and on Ethelred’s own motives for investigating Sir Robert’s death?

My first experience of reading LC Tyler came last June when I read Herring on the Nile, a classic and comical remake of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. It remains to this day – and probably will for some time to come – my favourite humorous crime book that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I’ve had Len’s The Herring in the Library – which incidentally precedes that book – on my shelf close on 10 months now just begging to be read but for one reason or another I haven’t picked it up, that is until now!

Although part of an incredibly well established series I find myself reading the books in reverse order, convinced that I will one day work my way back to the first book in the series The Herring Seller’s Apprentice, I really should add that to my bucket list! No seriously, LC Tyler’s books will be on my bucket list as of tomorrow!

Given my previous Egyptian sojourn with Herring on the Nile I had a fair idea of what to expect this time around but Len still manages to somehow throw the odd curve ball and delight. The humour is the same as is the detection; it’s dry, witty, sarcastic and intensely infectious and just when you think Elsie – also known as Elise – and Ethelred can’t be any more disjointed Elsie come up with another classic put down comment and changes all relationship rules.

I’m not walking up some muddy lane in heels, thank you very much. You’ve been away from London too long, Tressider. You think mud is fine if it doesn’t reach to the top of your Hunters. We have something called pavements in London. Once you have them fitted in Sussex we’ll walk as much as you like. Until then you get to drive me.

As with Herring on the Nile the narrative is heavily influenced by dialogue from start to finish allowing the story to flow with an authoritative and unwavering pace from beginning to end. There really is no let-up in the sarcasm stakes and even when faced with a dead body the humour is there to offer the odd light relief!

Ethelred and Elsie’s relationship is as fractious as ever, with Elsie returning as the dominant partner in the pairing. I do somehow feel that Ethelred is the hen pecked ‘non husband’ that she loves to boss around and boy does she do it well and with a certain flair. The jealousy is there as it was in Herring on the Nile when a glamorous woman – my words certainly not hers – shows up in need of a shoulder to cry on. Elsie simply doesn’t trust anyone more glam than she and it’s a joy to behold! The knives are out and she doesn’t take any prisoners as Elsie’s commentary affirms:

There was a large green car already parked in front of the house, but we appeared to be among the first to arrive. We were immediately greeted by some slapper in a blue dress, who had clearly never come across the expression ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ – though I thought I might usefully acquaint her with the phrase as the evening went on. She certainly didn’t look like somebody who’d have a husband called Shagger.

The two protagonists rarely agree and when they do it’s usually Ethelred succumbing to Elsie’s forceful and enthusiastic demeanour!  One of the things I love about Tyler’s books are the alternative viewpoints of the same scene where our protagonists take turns in informing the reader what really happened, or at least their blinkered views!

Loosely based on the classic Cluedo, The Herring in the Library will charm the socks off you and although Tyler’s main character -Ethelred Tressider – is billed as a third rate crime writer, Tyler without hesitation doesn’t suffer from the same misfortune. A comic genius if ever there was.  Utterly charming and spellbinding, I just can’t get enough.

Published by Macmillan, The Herring in the Library is available in Hardcover, Paperback & Kindle formats.

288 Pages ·  ISBN-10: 0330472143 ·  ISBN-13: 978-0330472142

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2 Responses to “The Herring in the Library by LC Tyler – Book Review”

  1. Well I had never heard of this series, or indeed its author, until I saw this on your blog Miles and now I really want to read it. It sounds like the perfect ‘in between read’ you know when you don’t know what you fancy so you have a series (or three) that are always there for those occasions, brilliant in their own way.

  2. Nikki-ann says:

    Not a series I’ve come across, but certainly one that sounds like it warrants being checked out. I love the humourous side that you’ve covered, so I think I’ll be adding thise series to the ever-growing pile! :)

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