Friday, March 24, 2017

Review of "The Killing in the Cafe" by Simon Brett

Carole and Jude are the resident amateur sleuths of the English town of Fethering. Carole, a former government employee, is rather straight-laced while Jude - a self-styled healer/psychologist- is an easy going hippy-dippy type.

In this 17th addition to the series, Polly's Cake Shop - a favorite Fethering café - is being sold. Some of the townsfolk, not wanting the site to become another Starbucks, form a "Save Polly's Cake Shop" action committee (SPCS). Jude gets co-opted to be on the committee and the meetings are quite funny....and probably true to life.

There's a power struggle to chair the committee, arguments about where to hold the meetings, disagreements about what to do with Polly's (one free spirit wants it to be multi-use, with facilities for meditation), and discussions about how to run the café. Quintus Braithwaite - a full of himself retired military man who bullies his way into the chairmanship - usually manages to get his way. The committee wastes a lot of donated money and tries to run the coffee shop as an all volunteer enterprise under the (not quite competent) auspices of Mrs. Braithwaite. This is all pretty entertaining.

While all this is going on Carole and Jude discover the decomposed body of a dead man - with a bullet in his head - on the Fethering beach. It so happens that someone saw this body weeks before, in the storeroom of Polly's Cake Shop, but never bothered reporting it to the police. Jude was informed about this body at the time but also didn't tell the police. (Really?? Is this believable??) The body then disappears until it's washed up on the shore. Eventually, the dead man - a stranger to town - is identified, and Carole and Jude make it their business to find his connection to Fethering and try to reveal the murderer.

Carole and Jude question people, investigate, and eventually solve the crime. Most of the book, though, is devoted to the women's everyday lives. Carole is set to become a grandmother for the second time and spends a lot of time visiting/worrying about her son and pregnant daughter-in-law. Jude sees clients of her healing business. The gals go to the coffee shop and pub. Carole's dog Gulliver gets walkies. And so on.

There are interesting secondary characters in the book, including the SPCS committee members, the waitresses at Polly's Cake Shop, a local real estate developer who wants to build 'affordable housing' behind Polly's cafe, and various possible suspects.

Fans of the series would probably enjoy this quiet cozy mystery with familiar likable characters.

Rating: 3 stars

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