Publishers Weekly Review
Brett's entertaining 18th mystery set in the West Sussex seaside town of Fethering (after 2015's Killer in the Cafe) opens at an author evening at the Fethering public library. The speaker is Burton St. Clair, who has finally achieved bestseller status with his ninth novel, Stray Leaves in Autumn-a mawkish, old-fashioned romance, in the opinion of Jude Nichol, who's in the audience and knew Burton years before, when he was self-publishing his books under his real name, Al Sinclair. When Burton, who's allergic to walnuts, dies after drinking red wine tainted with walnut at the event, Jude, who was aware of his allergy, becomes a prime suspect in his murder. Naturally, she turns for help proving her innocence to fellow amateur sleuth Carole Seddon, her old friend and neighbor. Brett takes delightful potshots at the publishing world, writers, and village life, all the while providing a top-notch whodunit plot with loads of red herrings and eccentric suspects. Readers fond of wry, offhand wit ("Burton's shoulders were home to more chips than McDonald's") will be rewarded. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Longtime mystery writer Brett, known for his Charles Paris, Mrs. Pargeter, Blotto and Twinks, and Fethering series, concocts both a riotous send-up and a tribute to the kind of Golden Age mystery that gave us the clichés of the body in the library, the bumbling constable, and the brilliant amateur sleuth. In this, Brett's eighteenth Fethering novel, there is no body in the library, but there is one in the car park just outside. The plot hinges upon the movements of the people in the library just before the victim was murdered, several of whom are casual or vicious liars. Brett expands his amateur sleuths beyond the usual team of staid Carole Seldon and free-spirit Jude Nicholls to include a couple of other people eager to outwit the police. The manner of murder is as satisfyingly bizarre and complicated as in any Golden Age puzzler. The murder victim, Burton St Clair, a suddenly successful author invited to give a reading at Fethering Library, is himself a self-promoting liar, cheat, and philanderer, the type of murder victim whose demise quickly generates a long list of suspects. Characters here include both those justifiably skewered and sympathetically drawn in a plot that keeps on surprising. Brett won the UK's Diamond Dagger Award in 2014 for his contributions to crime writing. This may just be the best Brett novel yet.--Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2018 Booklist