The Body on the Beach is the first in Simon Brett’s Fethering Mysteries. It’s an easy read, a ‘cozy mystery’, set in a fictitious village on the south coast of England. Not a typical village as it has a large residential conurbation, but at its heart is the High Street, with its flint-faced cottages, dating back to the early 18th century. Radiating out from the High Street are a number of new developments, Victorian and Edwardian houses, bungalows, post-war council houses and a large private estate of huge houses backing on to the sea.
Carole Seddon has taken early retirement from her career at the Home Office to live there and as the book opens she is confronted by a new neighbour, Jude, who with her informality and casual approach to life breaks all the accepted local conventions. Carole views her with slight distaste. But when Carole is also confronted by the the discovery of a dead body on the beach, that has disappeared by the time the police go to investigate, she gradually accepts Jude’s help. Together they set about solving the mystery, which gets more complicated with the discovery of the body of a local lad.
This is an entertaining whodunnit which I liked well enough. It wasn’t too difficult to work out the identity of the first body and the culprit. I liked the contrast between Carole and Jude – Carole, set in her ways, reserved and conventional and the flamboyant, casual Jude. Despite her informality Jude reveals very little about her life and relationships, despite Carole’sefforts to get to know more about her. I also liked the way Brett so convincingly describes the relationships between the different groups of Fethering’s residents.
There are 11 books in the Fethering series. I’ve already read the fourth – Murder in the Museum, so there are plenty more to read, the latest one being The Shooting in the Shop. The full list is in Wikipedia and Simon Brett also has a website.