Monday, July 4, 2011

The Herring in the Library: Review

Ethelred and Elsie are at it again--this time taking their sleuthing skills to the old country manor house and investigating The Herring in the Library. L. C. Taylor's third installment in his comic mystery series once again provides readers with a send-up of Agatha Christie and her Golden Age contemporaries. We have a gathering of dear old chums at a dinner party given by Sir Robert "Shagger" Muntham at his newly acquired country home. Nearly everyone on the guest list has a reason to be glad when Muntham mysteriously leaves the dinner table and, quite literally, never returns. Muntham is later found strangled in the library with all the doors and windows locked from the inside. The classic locked room mystery. Given the circumstances and the word of two doctors in the party, the police are all set to list the death as suicide. But the "grieving" widow isn't about to accept that...not with an insurance policy hanging in the balance. She asks Ethelred to use his crime writer's skills to get to the bottom of things and soon he finds that he has more clues than he knows what to do with. Is someone leading him up the garden path? And what about the mysterious notes that Shagger has left for Ethelred? There's one more to be found that just might hold the answer to everything....

The Herring series is an absolutely wonderful take on the Golden Age of mysteries. I love how Tyler takes all the conventions, stands them on their heads, and still manages to make a terrific crime novel out of them. All that was missing from this country house outing was the snow storm to trap them all while the murderer ran amok. But not to worry, Tyler is still on the top of his game and I'm sure he's got the whole deck of vintage cards up his sleeve and ready to produce when the time is right. Again (as with The Ten Little Herrings), if you're looking for a fun and funny mystery novel, this is the one for you. Four stars.

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