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Tuesday 29 August 2017

‘Herring in the Smoke’ by L C Tyler

Published by Allison & Busby,
22 June 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-7490-2186-3

As the twentieth anniversary of the disappearance of moderately successful Crime Writer Roger Norton Vane approached, it was proposed that a memorial service should be held. Crime writer Ethelred Tressider, also a moderately successful writer, was commissioned to write his biography, presumably in what Vane’s publishers hoped would be renewed interest in his books. 

Roger Norton Vane’s disappearance twenty years ago, when he went for a walk in the Thai jungle and never returned had at the time sparked much interest and speculation. However, the years passed and when various sightings’ of him all over the world proved fruitless, it was finally decided to make his death official, not least for the person or people who would inherit his accumulated wealth.

And so, it was that a slightly late Ethelred Tressider, found himself wedged into a pew in the back row for Vane’s memorial service.  He initially paid scant attention to the old gentleman sat next to him, except to notice he was somewhat oddly attired in a heavy overcoat and open sandals. After surveying the congregation, some things meeting with his approval and some clearly not, he finally turned to Ethelread and announced in a loud voice that he had just that morning flown in. After the old man had passed several less than complimentary comments on his journey from the airport, and matters in general, Ethelred, in an attempt to quiet things down, introduced himself.  The old gentleman returned the compliment and so it was that Ethelred met Roger Norton Vane at his own memorial service.

The fall-out of the re-emergence of the dead man has considerable ramifications for Tim, Vane’s partner, his niece Cynthia, Vane’s agent, and as Ethelred finds out, himself.  All was not quite as it should be with his commission to write the biography.  As readers of this marvellous series will know Elsie Thitkettle, Ethelred’s agent, is not above stitching Ethelred up if it’s in her interest to do so. 

Of course, it’s not long before the waters get well and truly muddied.  Elsie, amazingly, is still employing her assistant Tuesday, whose mission is to try and cut down Elsie’s chocolate intake.  Might as well push water up a hill, Tuesday.

When murder raises its head the plot well and truly thickens. 

Terrific prose, fascinating characters and a complex plot, what more could you want. But can you unravel it?  Most highly recommended. 
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

L. C. Tyler was born in Southend, Essex, and educated at Southend High School for Boys, Jesus College Oxford and City University London. After university he joined the Civil Service and worked at the Department of the Environment in London and Hong Kong. He then moved to the British Council, where his postings included Malaysia, Thailand, Sudan and Denmark.

Since returning to the UK he has lived in Sussex and London, and was Chief Executive of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health for eleven years. He is now a full-time writer. His first novel, The Herring Seller's Apprentice, was published by Macmillan in 2007, followed by A Very Persistent Illusion, Ten Little Herrings, The Herring in the Library and Herring on the Nile. The first book in a new historical series, A Cruel Necessity, was published by Constable and Robinson in November 2014. Since then he has published two further books in this series, A Masterpiece of Corruption (2016) and The Plague Road (2017)

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