When an author event at the local library ends in murder, Jude finds herself a suspect in the waspishly witty new Fethering mystery. Having been booked to give a talk at Fethering Library, successful author Burton St Clair invites his old friend Jude to come along. Although they haven’t met for twenty years, Jude is not surprised to find that St Clair hasn’t changed, with his towering ego and somewhat shaky relationship with the truth. What Jude hadn’t been suspecting however was that the evening would end in sudden, violent death. More worrying, from Jude’s point of view, is the fact that the investigating police officers seem to be convinced that she herself was responsible for the crime. With the evidence stacking up against her, Jude enlists the help of her neighbour Carole not just to solve the murder but to prevent herself from being arrested for committing it.
When someone has written over one hundred books – most of them murder mysteries – you know you’re in the hands of a competent and experienced plotter and storyteller, and that’s exactly what you get with Simon Brett.
I like the Fethering series but I must admit I was pleased that most of the focus was on Jude in this instalment and that Carole took a bit of a back seat as she can (albeit intentionally) be a bit tiresome. The Liar in the Library is another quick-to-read satisfactory whodunit and is prevented from being formulaic by putting Jude in jeopardy and giving her a new amateur sleuth to compare notes with.
The book is full of Brett’s signature wry turns of phrase (although there were one or two crass lines I could have done without) and quite a few catty sideswipes, at writers of literary fiction, middle aged men’s semi- autobiographical musings and so-called experts in crime fiction as an academic discipline. To that end, a couple of the characters were very caricatured: Burton, Steve and Nessa, but that may have been exactly the point.
I have read many of the Fethering mysteries already (although I prefer Brett’s Charles Paris series) and I think you could enjoy this as a standalone, but clearly you’d get more from the characters and setup if you have read at least some of the earlier books.
Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for the ARC of The Liar in the Library. 3.5/5 stars.