Book #20 in our A to Z Mystery Tour
Fethering #4 – 2003
I seem to be working my way through this series in spite of myself; as part of the A to Z Mystery Tour I ran across the fourth book in Simon Brett’s Fethering Mysteries on my local library’s mystery shelf. Murder in the Museum has a plot device I see frequently: a seventy-year-old corpse is discovered, and a new murder occurs as the plot thickens.
Carole is a newly appointed trustee at Bracketts, the home of a long-dead poet which is being converted to a museum; she has the dubious honor of being present when the old corpse is found in the kitchen garden.
Early on, one can predict who else will die (see if you get it right), but the murder takes a very long time to actually happen. Meanwhile, Jude’s whiskey-drinking, chain-smoking friend shows up and even jealous Carole has to admit that the friend’s academic skills come in handy in researching what really happened at Bracketts. It’s not too often that characters actually show some development and growth in a mystery series, by the way, but Carole does seem to be growing; she demonstrates awareness of her tendency to be jealous of Jude’s friends, but recognizes that she is unable to stop herself.
While Carole works with and against other trustees and staff to learn more about the earlier death, Jude uses her own resources at the local prison to speak directly to a convicted murderer in hope of gaining insight. Ted Crisp, pub owner and Carole’s unlikely former fling, makes a brief appearance, but otherwise all characters are both new and irritating, for the most part.
Did I guess the present-day murderer? Yes, in a kind of “wouldn’t it be funny if?” kind of way. The plot weaves a decades-old death and a brand new murder together, which is no small feat. I did not listen to the audio version.
You can read this book without reading the others in the series first, although you’ll lose a bit of context around Carole and her quirks.
(Interestingly, when I googled this title I came across an 80’s TV series called “Partners in Crime” in which a 1984 episode was called Murder in the Museum; one of the main characters in that series is also named Carole. Weird. It looks like it might not be too bad.)