Thursday, December 24, 2009

Review of The Herring Seller’s Apprentice by L.C. Tyler (Pan Macmillan, 2007)

Having persuaded her sister, her lover and bank manager to invest in one of her business ventures, Geraldine Tressider disappears leaving her car and a suicide note at beach in West Sussex close to the home of her ex-husband, Ethelred, a crime fiction author. Everyone is convinced Geraldine has absconded with the money until the body of a woman matching her description is found strangled to death at a local scenic spot. The crime fits the pattern of a serial killer operating in the area. Unconvinced, Elsie Thirkettle, Ethelred’s no-nonsense, chocolate-loving agent, who despises both authors and fiction, presses her charge to investigate further. It soon becomes apparent that Geraldine had transferred her ill-gotten gains to Switzerland and the day after her death the money was withdrawn by a mystery woman. It appears that Geraldine was murdered for profit, the question is by whom?

The Herring Seller’Apprentice is a lightly satirical turn on cosy crime fiction. Although competently written, it did little for me. I suspect that this is partly a matter of taste. Cosies are not my crime fiction of choice. I am a great fan, however, of fiction that tries to play with and subvert the genre such as that by Malcolm Pryce, Jasper Fforde and Donna Moore. But even on this level, the book felt a little flat and insubstantial. The whole thing felt too contrived and knowing. The result was I almost stopped reading the book a couple of times, but in the end soldiered onto the end. There were a couple of nice passages, especially near the beginning discussing the relationship between author and agent, but not nearly enough for my palate. My view though is definitely out-voted by other blogs; for more positive reviews see:

Eurocrime, Fleur Fisher reads, DJ Krimiblog, Martin Edwards, Grey Dove, It's a Crime

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