Herring On The Nile by L C Tyler

Herring On The NileFollowing the events of The Herring In The Library, Ethelred Tressider, the third- (or possibly second-) rate mystery writer has come into some money. In an effort to seek inspiration for his great novel, he decides to head to Egypt – a luxury cruise down the Nile – with his girlfriend. Unfortunately she drops out, and so his agent, Elsie, decides to take her place. Lucky there’s a spare cabin.

In fact there are a lot of spare cabins – the cruise is rather empty. But there are enough passengers to cause enough trouble. Is anyone on the boat who they appear to be? And when one of the passengers is murdered, who can you turn to when you’re not even sure who are the law and who are… goodness knows what? If even Ethelred and Elsie can’t agree who’s who, then how on earth are they going to catch a murderer – or at least avoid being killed by one…

And we’re onto the fourth of the series, after The Herring Seller’s Apprentice, Ten Little Herrings and The Herring In The Library, or, as they’re known in France, Etrange suicide dans une Fiat rouge à faible kilométrage (Strange Suicide In A Red Fiat With Low Mileage), Homicides multiples dans un hôtel miteux des bords de Loire (Multiple Homicide In A Seedy Hotel On The Banks Of The Loire) and Mort mystérieuse d’un respectable banquier anglais dans un manoir Tudor du Sussex (Mysterious Death Of A Respectable Banker In A Respectable English Tudor Mansion In Sussex). What great titles! I suppose the Herring pun doesn’t translate…

Now this one is going to be hard to review. Each of the books in the series is more than a pastiche of the Golden Age, it does something new to the format, with a mildly metafiction edge. Just a mild one, but even so. There’s also damn funny, especially as the book oscillates from Ethelred to Elsie’s very different point of view. One of the early bits of fun is the countless interviews that Ethelred is filling out for a bit of publicity – all of which give hints as to the way that the book is going to play out – and a damn good Dan Brown joke. But there’s so much going on here, I’d prefer to leave it for the reader to discover by themselves.

It’s a very busy book – it’s full of Death On The Nile homages, although I’ll put my hand up and say that I missed most of them. And I missed the killer too – I’d plumped for one of the wrong solutions.

It’s worth mentioning that Len Tyler plays a very interesting gambit with the conclusion of the tale – something that I can’t discuss but certainly means that at some point, I’ll need to re-read the book. Even with that clever (and mildly annoying, but in a good way) bit, this is a great read. An original series that still finds new games to play. Highly Recommended.

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15 comments

  1. I haven’t read this. Actually, I lost interest after the third book.
    But after reading your review, I feel I should read this.

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  2. Thanks (once again) for tempting me to click the ‘purchase’ button, but I think I can resist this time as my cupboard is full of books, and the first two Tyler novels can be found in my local library. 😛 And I shouldn’t be making further purchases when the one Queen novel and the two Gordon-Smith novels I bought haven’t even arrived yet! Would you say that this series is similar to the Jack Haldean series: humorous takes on the Golden Age mystery?

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  3. Great review. The French titles for the novels are hilarious. This definitely a series I have loved and a few months ago read the latest one: Crooked Herring (pun on Christie’s Crooked House). Really loved that one and Tyler has a lot of fun with amazon reviews.

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    • I have just come across recent newspaper reports that Amazon is going to take action against fake reviewers and the concerned authors and retailers.

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