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The Shooting in the Shop is the eleventh and latest novel in the Fethering murder mystery series.
The murder mysteries are all set in and around the fictional South coast town of Fethering; Fethering is approximately 9 miles away from Brighton. The Fethering mysteries feature two middle aged female neighbours, they are Carole Seddon and Jude Nicholls.
Carole is the uptight prudish, rather staid retired civil servant; Carole is in her late fifties and lives with her dog Gulliver at High Tor. She is rather bitterly divorced from her husband David, and has a son called Stephen, and is a grandmother. Carole is a lover of crosswords and is a little uptight around people in case she has to interact with them.
Jude is a blond lady in her fifties, she is rather large has a colourful lifestyle and a general love of life. Jude is a healer who believes in alternate lifestyles who believes in living her life to the full. She lives next door to Carole and has a love of Chilean chardonnays.
The shooting in the Shop
The Shooting in the Shop is a novel set in and around Christmas time with the novel starting with Carole worrying about the arrival of Stephen, Gaby and her new grandchild for Christmas Day. She is anxious to give the young family a nice day but is also worried about how she'll come over in the more laid back Christmas Day celebrations.
The book continues for the first few chapters with the build up to Christmas Day, Carole tells Jude about the presents she has bought for Stephen and Gaby and Jude tells her that she needs to buy presents which have a more relaxed feel. So the pair go to a new shop perfect for buying little knickknacks and in this we are introduced to the shop in the title. The shop is owned by Ricky and Lola, Ricky is a music producer and Lola his much younger wife. Ricky's mother is the former world famous actress Fiona who is now crippled with arthritis and there is a step child from one of Ricky's former marriages.
The starter chapters introduce these characters and of course one of them will be the murder victim, and so the day after New Years Day the shop burns but in the ashes is the body of a young woman. The body turns out to be Ricky's step daughter and the investigations begin.
As with all the Fethering mysteries, the stories tend to split between Carole's investigations through her contacts through her Home Office days and Jude's investigations through her times as a healer. In all the books, Jude is always pulled into the inner circle due to her skills as a healer. In this novel, she is asked to give some relief to Fiona's crippling arthritis; she also hosted a Christmas party where all the members of the family came before the young girl's death.
The novel takes on familiar feelings; there are nice twists, and a slow revealing of the facts which led to the body in the shop. As with all the murders the murderer is defrocked in the last but one chapter and the reason is given. Then the author rounds up the little story threads from the novel and gives space for the next novel.
This wasn't one of the better Fethering novels, it feels a little like the Hanging in the Hotel in that the back setting is the music and arts industry and it feels a bit of a stretch especially from the Carole viewpoint as she is a different character from the classic pop music lover.
Still this is a decent murder mystery and still fun to read, Brett always engages the reader and is a pleasure to read. I'm hoping this isn't the final novel in the series and coded comments in the final chapter gives a hint that another Fethering novel will be coming.