The Body on the Beach by Simon Brett
13th August 2019. 5 stars.
The Body on the Beach immediately transported me into the gentle world of seaside town, Fethering, on the Sussex coast. Filled with sharply observed characters, traditional values and a lifestyle befitting a community of retired people, it comes as something of a shock when Carole Seddon discovers a body while walking her dog on the beach.
She gets an even bigger shock when the police arrive later and the body’s gone.
Cue new neighbour, Jude, who’s an unknown and unsettling presence, but keen to support Carole. Together, they form an unlikely alliance that’s both heart-warming and uplifting, as they establish trust and friendship while solving a baffling and intriguing murder.
I enjoyed the author’s eye for detail and the social comment which captures the foibles and attitudes of the locals without descending into caricature. The story moved along at a gentle but steady pace as the two ladies slowly unravel the various strands of the mystery, building to an exciting and satisfying climax.
The Body on the Beach epitomises my idea of an English cosy mystery, which is not afraid to embrace issues like drugs and deception alongside murder. The natural humour in the writing and characters lightens the mix, providing all the ingredients you could ask for in a murder mystery.
I don’t think it will be long before I return to Fethering for another of Carole and Jude’s investigations.
Very little disturbs the ordered calm of Fethering, a pleasingly self-contained retirement town on England’s southern coast. Which is precisely why Carole Seddon, who has left behind both her husband and her career at the Home Office, has chosen to reside there. So Carole is surprised to encounter a new neighbour with one name and a colourful past. ‘Jude’ is not really Fethering . . . but even she is not as surprising as the body Carole finds on the beach.
A body, it has to be said, that has disappeared by the time the police arrive. Only Jude is ready to believe what Carole says she saw – and from that moment on, the two women resolve to turn detective.