Death and the Decorator Reviewed

I worry about Jude.  I worry far more about Jude than I ever do Carole.  God knows, I worry more about Carole’s dog Gulliver than I do about Carole.  After all, just how old is that dog now?  Violence at the Vets: mark my words, it is a Fethering title just waiting to happen.  Simon Brett: you can have that one on me.  Carole: you know that Carole is unmoveable.  But Jude?  Anything is possible.

When I reviewed Simon Brett’s previous Fethering book––Guilt at the Garage––I feared that Jude, and even Simon Brett himself, had got bored of Fethering, but here, with the 21st book in the series, they are back again, Jude’s previous signs of discontent only manifesting themselves in a major redecoration of her home, Woodside Cottage.

But is all quite so well and cosy between neighbours Jude and Carole as it used to be?  A friendship always built upon the two women’s differences, whereupon a certain friction is inevitable, in Death and the Decorator I sense a slighter wider gulf between them.  In the past, where they have always found common ground by sharing the findings of their various investigations, in Death and the Decorator certain secrecies exist between them; pieces of information jealously guarded rather than shared.  This division is exaggerated by both women finding new confidantes for themselves.  In Jude’s case this new friend takes the shape of fellow healer Brandie Neville; for Carole, it is retired journalist Malk Penberthy.

Can Carole and Jude’s partnership survive the presence of these new interlopers?

Death and the Decorator involves a two-pronged investigation for the Fethering duo, one rooted in the past, with the disappearance of a young woman from the town thirty years previous; one very much in the present, with a mysterious death occurring on a boat from the yacht club.

After 21 books, both Jude and Carole are getting something of a reputation around Fethering as nosey busy-bodies, which does nothing to help them in solving the latest crime and, maybe it is partly because of this reputation, which makes Jude reflect towards the end of the book that: “She didn’t get out of Fethering enough.  Maybe it was time for a new challenge in her life.  Time to move on yet again.”  Or, is this Simon Brett once again trying to warn Fethering fans that the end of the series is nigh?

One new Fethering habitué that Death and the Decorator introduces us to is Pete, the loveable handyman and decorator.  Is it just me, or is there something of a Robin Askwith Seventies throwback about Pete?  Despite his apparently happily-married-with-two-kids status there is something rather suggestive about his offers to do little extras: “Oh, while you’re here.”  Confessions of an Odd Job Man?

© Fergus Longfellow

Fergus Longfellow is something of a Seventies throwback himself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s