By the author of the Charles Paris series.
What is the Fethering series about?
Simon Brett OBE FRSL is a British playwright, a producer-writer for television and radio, and of course an author of detective fiction.
Fethering is the name of the series and of the fictitious village on England’s south coast (adjacent to Tarring) where the action takes place. This is where Carole Seddon, a retired civil servant, and her neighbour, Jude Nichols, live.
Carole and Jude are amateur sleuths who started investigating murder mysteries in The Body on the Beach published in 2000. Since then, more than 20 books have been published.
How to read the Fethering Books in Order?
Every book in the Fethering series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Body on the Beach – Very little disturbs the ordered calm of Fethering. This 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 neighbor with one name and a colorful 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.
- Death On the Downs – It wasn’t the rain that upset Fethering resident Carole Seddon during her walk on the Downs, or the dilapidated barn in which she was forced to seek shelter. No, what upset her was the human skeleton she discovered there, neatly packed into two blue fertiliser bags . . .
- The Torso In The Town – Grant and Kim Roxby had hoped that their first dinner party at Pelling House would make an impression with their new neighbours. And the next day it’s certainly the talk of the village in Fethering. For their guests – including the couple’s old friend Jude – had been enjoying a pleasant meal when they were rudely interrupted by a gruesome discovery. A human torso was hidden in the cellar.
- Murder in the Museum – Bracketts, an Elizabethan house near the town of Fethering, is about to be turned into a museum, but the transition is proving nightmarish. Carole regrets her decision to be on the museum’s Board when she witnesses bitter antagonism and rivalry amongst the other members. The tensions climax when a human skeleton is found in the kitchen garden and then another body is discovered, not yet cold.
- The Hanging in the Hotel – Fethering resident Jude soon regrets helping out at an event at the Hopwicke Country House Hotel. The all-male society, The Pillars of Sussex, are visiting and keep Jude up until the small hours when the last of the rowdy men goes to bed. When one guest doesn’t show up for breakfast the next morning, Jude presumes he’s feeling the effects of the night before and searches him out. Only to discover his body hanging from the beams of a four-poster bed.
- The Witness at the Wedding – It’s time to celebrate in Fethering Village, as Carole’s son is getting married to a wonderful girl, albeit one with rather odd parents. Not only do they have no interest in the wedding preparations, but the mere thought of talking about the event frightens them beyond words. When the bride’s father is found murdered, Carole and Jude fear the bride-to-be is the killer’s next target.
- The Stabbing in the Stables – Carole Seddon accompanies Jude to Long Bamber Stables so her friend can apply her healing touch to a lame horse, only to stumble upon the body of a man beyond medical help-alternative or otherwise. The victim, former equestrian champion Walter Fleet, worked in the stables-spending more time grooming himself to impress the ladies than he did grooming the horses.
- Death Under the Dryer – The last thing Carole expects when she goes to Connie’s Clip Joint for a trim is to find the body of Kyra, Connie’s assistant, in the back room. Kyra’s boyfriend, Nathan, has vanished, but his family, an eccentric, controlling bunch, don’t seem overly concerned. Instead, they are bizarrely obsessed with a family board game which seems to provide a host of clues as to Nathan’s whereabouts.
- Blood At the Bookies – Jude has never been averse to a bit of a flutter; her friend Carole, on the other hand, thinks that the local betting shop is a den of iniquity. But when Jude stumbles upon the body of fellow customer Tadeusz Jankowski after placing a bet, the odds of finding his killer don’t look good. No one seems to know much about Polish immigrant Tadek, and even his sister doesn’t know why he moved to Fethering in the first place.
- The Poisoning in the Pub – Jude and Carole get more than they bargained for when a lunchtime meal in their local pub leaves everyone with food poisoning. The landlord is horrified, and when a series of disasters start to befall his business it looks like it could be the end of the road for the Crown and Anchor. Left with a bad taste in their mouths – and not just from the food – the two amateur detectives wonder if it might just be more than a run of bad luck that’s forcing their favorite pub into bankruptcy.
- The Shooting in the Shop – Carole Seddon hates Christmas – it all seems rather a waste of time. So when her neighbour and best friend, Jude, drags her along to go shopping at a local store called Gallimaufry, she can feel her inner-Scrooge knocking. But the sales are on, and even Carole can’t resist a bargain. A few days later, though, Gallimaufry is burnt down, and a body is discovered in the ashes. It seems like a tragic accident . . . but no-one can die of natural causes when a gun is involved.
- Bones Under the Beach Hut – Carole is delighted to take ownership of a beach hut in the affluent nearby seaside resort of Smaltings – until, that is, human remains are found under the floorboards. Who do the bones belong to – and who put them there? Carole and her best friend Jude are determined to find out.
- Guns in the Gallery – Invited to a Private View of the work of controversial artist Denzil Willoughby, the good citizens of Fethering are not quite sure what to expect. And it turns out to be a lively affair, culminating in several embarrassing confrontations. But what no one could have anticipated was that the evening would end in sudden, violent death. The police seem happy to accept that it was suicide, but Fethering residents Carole and Jude remain unconvinced . . .
- Corpse on the Court – Jude’s life has been turned upside-down thanks her new man, Piers Targett, who’s keen to get her involved in his hobby – or obsession – of Real Tennis. But when one of Piers’ friends dies on the court in suspicious circumstances, Jude finds herself caught up in the police investigation. Meanwhile, Carole is trying to identify the human remains known locally as the ‘Lady in the Lake.’ As the two investigations become intertwined, Carole and Jude’s efforts to find the truth look set to lead to more murders.
- The Strangling on the Stage – When Jude agrees to lend her vintage chaise longue for the local Amateur Dramatics Society’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple, little does she realize she’ll end up in a starring role. It’s an ambitious play, culminating in a dramatic execution scene: a scene that’s played for real when one of the leading actors is found hanging from the especially-constructed stage gallows during rehearsals.
- The Tomb in Turkey – Carole Seddon has never enjoyed holidays much. Nevertheless, she has allowed herself to be persuaded by her friend Jude to accept a fortnight’s free accommodation at a luxurious Turkish villa owned by Jude’s property developer friend Barney Willingdon. But from the outset the holiday is marred by a series of menacing incidents: threatening messages daubed on the villa walls, and their host being accosted by a knife-wielding man at a local restaurant. Carole and Jude start investigating.
- The Killing in the Cafe – When Polly’s Cake Shop’s owner announces her retirement, the Fethering residents start to worry about the loss of this popular amenity. Alarmed by rumors that the café might become a Starbucks, a group clubs together to form the Save Polly’s Cake Shop Action Committee. The plan is that Polly’s should become a community venture, managed and run by volunteers from the village. Roped in to help, Jude finds the committee meetings fraught with petty power struggles, clashing personalities, and monstrous egos. Matters take a turn for the worse when she and Carole come across a badly-decomposed body on Fethering beach – and uncover a link to Polly’s.
- The Liar in the Library – Bestselling author Burton St Clair, complete with soaring ego and wandering hands, has come to town to give a talk. But after his corpse is found slumped in his car, he won’t be leaving. Jude is the prime suspect; she was, after all, the last person to see Burton St Clair alive. If she is to prove her innocence, she will have to dust off her detective skills and recruit Carole to find the real culprit.
- The Killer in the Choir – At her husband’s funeral, Heather Mallet is publicly accused of his murder. But did she really kill her husband, as many residents of the sleepy coastal town of Fethering believe? To get to the heart of the matter, Carole and Jude join the community choir and discover that amidst the clashing egos and petty resentments there lurk some decidedly false notes.
- Guilt at the Garage – Carole Seddon’s trusty Renault is one of her most treasured possessions. So when it is vandalized, there’s only one person she will entrust with its repair: Bill Shefford has been servicing the vehicles of the good citizens of Fethering for many years. But how could something like this happen in Fethering of all places? Then the note is shoved under Carole’s kitchen door: Watch out. The car window was just the start. It would appear that she has been deliberately targeted. But by whom? and why?
- Death and the Decorator – Having decided to redecorate Woodside Cottage, Jude has engaged the services of local man Pete. He is currently working on Footscrow House, a large Victorian building that is being converted into holiday flats by a local developer. There, Jude and Pete make a surprising discovery behind a wall panel: a woman’s handbag! The casual discovery becomes serious when the police identify the handbag’s owner as Anita Garner, a young woman who vanished in suspicious circumstances twenty years earlier.
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