Brett, Simon - 'The Strangling on the Stage'
THE STRANGLING ON THE STAGE is the fifteenth of the Fethering series of novels by Simon Brett.
Jude agrees to lend her vintage chaise longue to the local Amateur Dramatics Society for their production of George Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple - an ambitious play that culminates in a dramatic execution scene. This scene is played out for real when one of the leading actors is found hanging from the specially constructed stage gallows during rehearsals - was this a tragic accident or was it something more sinister tied in to the rivalry in the am-dram society? Jude and her sleuthing partner Carol make it their business to find out.
Although I have not been a great fan of the Fethering novels in the past preferring Simon Brett's other three series (Charles Paris, Blotto & Twinks and Mrs Pargeter), this one appealed to me as it has Simon Brett writing about the world of the theatre he knows so well as demonstrated by the Charles Paris novels.
What you get here is a good, solid, character-driven novel in an interesting milieu with characters who are believable if a little bit over the top - this is amateur dramatics after all - and an interesting whodunit at its heart, although you may well work out who the killer is before Carol and Jude do.
This is a nice, traditional, cozy mystery with just a little bit of dark humour and I will try out more of the series now as a result of reading this one.
Mark Bailey, Northern Ireland