Death on the Downs is the second of the Fethering Mysteries by Simon Brett, featuring retired civil servant Carole Seddon and her mysterious neighbour Jude (no surname, at least not yet), set in and around the village of Fethering on the south coast of England.
Carole, while sheltering from the rain during a walk on the Downs, finds the body of a woman neatly stored in two fertilizers sacks. Thus begins an enquiry into who the bones belong to and who killed the woman in the first place. Of course it’s not easy to find a murderer when you don’t know who the victim is.
Now this is the sort of book that should be read by those after a straightforward mystery read rather than a certain recently reviewed book. First of all, the characters leap off the page. They seem real and it is very easy to empathise with them – I found after only a couple of chapters that I actually cared about the nascent romance between Carole and Ted, the landlord of the local pub. But on the other hand, this is not a soap opera style of book – with every chapter the plot keeps moving forward. The writing keeps you completely engrossed while speculating what exactly is going on.
I’m not going to say too much about the plot as due to the “whose body” nature of it, it’s very easy to spoil it. But there are a number of well-drawn (and distinctive) suspects to choose from. As with the previous book, The Body on the Beach, the murderer is hardly a surprise – as the story progresses, there becomes a certain inevitability in the direction the plot is taken, but for as enjoyable a book as this is, this is not an issue for me.
It may not be a classic mystery per se, but this is an excellent read and a worthy addition to the genre, and I’m very much looking forward to reading The Torso In The Town – I doubt I’ll leave it as long as I took to read this one