A fun whodunit romp by Simon Brett
I’ve always been a big fan of crime fiction, and I’m also one for whimsy, and The Body on the Beach is a pleasant blend of the two. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and aims for fun and frolic in its plot and characters.
As you can probably guess from the title, The Body on the Beach centres on the discovery of a dead body on a beach. The body is discovered by Carole, a highly practical and somewhat rigid woman who’s just looking for a quiet retirement. But she’s soon lured into investigating the events surrounding the appearance, and disappearance, of the body, by her new neighbour Jude. Jude is the complete opposite of Carole, a bohemian free spirited woman who isn’t averse to bending the rules to do the right thing.
For me it was Carole and Jude that made this book fun to read. I have to say that plot-wise, it did get a bit over-complicated, with lots of red herrings and twists. Some of those were fun and helped move the story along and add intrigue, but a few felt a bit forced and slowed things down unnecessarily. But the blossoming friendship between Carole and Jude, and the differences in their characters made kept things light and fun from start to end.
I also enjoyed the cast of supporting characters. Most of whom were rather eccentric and had fun quirks. The only thing I’d say is that there were quite a lot of them, and they all seemed to overlap in my mind, so I did lose track of who was who and their relevance. It didn’t really matter too much to the story, but from an engagement point of view it did make it a little more a challenge to get into the book.
As this is book one in a series, my guess is that Simon Brett is setting up the world and bringing in the characters for use in future books. And I’m sure once you got into the rhythm of ‘The Fethering Mysteries’ all the characters would come into their own; it just felt like a lot to introduce in one go. (Though I can’t discount the possibility that it’s my poor memory, rather than the writing that made remembering who was who so challenging for me as a reader!)
Unlike other crime series, I don’t feel an urgent need to rush out and buy the next book. But I do like knowing that if I am stuck for my next read, and in the mood for something a bit fun and frothy, then there’s always a story to be told in Fethering. Plus, there’s always the chance that book two will be the one that gets me truly hooked, so I won’t say I’ll never read the next in the series, but I will say it probably won’t happen right away.
Overall I enjoyed reading The Body on the Beach, but it didn’t have much of a long term impact, which is fine – not every book needs to be life-changing – and if a friend asked, I’d recommend it as a lighthearted summer read that’s good for a few laughs.
The Body on the Beach by Simon Brett is available on Amazon.