REVIEW: The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett (Fethering Mysteries #18)

Series: Fethering Mysteries

Book Number: 18

Read this book for: cozy mystery, UK mystery, whodunnit, contemporary mystery, amateur detectives, female detectives

Quick Review: An extremely cozy English mystery with all the trimmings, including a fun little puzzle, but with the freshness of a contemporary setting.


Having been booked to give a talk at Fethering Library, successful author Burton St Clair invites his old friend Jude to come along. Although they haven’t met for twenty years, Jude is not surprised to find that St Clair hasn’t changed, with his towering ego and somewhat shaky relationship with the truth. What Jude hadn’t been suspecting however was that the evening would end in sudden, violent death.

More worrying, from Jude’s point of view, is the fact that the investigating police officers seem to be convinced that she herself was responsible for the crime. With the evidence stacking up against her, Jude enlists the help of her neighbour Carole not just to solve the murder but to prevent herself from being arrested for committing it.

THE LIAR IN THE LIBRARY is the 18th Fethering mystery from Simon Brett, a cozy, Christie-style mystery featuring the investigation of Jude and Carole, two village ladies with a Marple-like nose for trouble, into a mysterious death.

This is actually the first Fethering mystery I have read, and it makes me want to pick up much more of the series. Luckily, this is a novel that you can read without any prior knowledge of the books; everything is contained within it. There were one or two points where an old relationship or character was introduced, but Brett does a good job of pointing out why those relationships are interesting without spoiling any of the previous novels.

This is such a fun story. It has the feel and coziness of a Golden Age mystery (Marple and PD James novels are strongly recalled), and it is conscious of that fact. Several of the characters actually reference Golden Age mysteries during the investigation, and conduct their own investigations along those lines.

The actual plot is also reminiscent of those Golden Age mysteries. The investigation is more armchair than action packed, as befits this type of cozy mystery, but never feels too slow. And the plot is relatively clever, with several suspects, all with equal opportunities to have done the deed, and lots of hidden potential motives and connections. The update is the 21st century setting — it feels very much like Midsomer Murders, with amateur investigators.

THE LIAR IN THE LIBRARY is a short but fun little novel, it’s well worth picking up for a cozy read and guessing along with the investigation!

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