London: Pan Macmillan, 2011.
I do love a good mystery, and when a writer contrives to write a series that spoofs The Great Mysteries of Yore, I’m in heaven. This book was hilarious. I started out with a pencil in hand, but soon realized that if I made note of every passage that made me laugh, I’d have the whole book marked up, which would rather defeat the purpose. The humour is arch, the narrators wonderfully unreliable, and although the allusions to Dame Agatha heavy enough to serve as murder weapons themselves, it is P.G. Wodehouse who is the presiding muse.
The comic series features mystery writer Ethelred Tressider, a woebegone man who is obsessed with his unsatisfactory amazon rankings, and his literary agent Elsie Thirkettle, an interfering chocoholic who reminds poor Ethelred endlessly that he’s a second-rate writer. In this one, the pair confronts a classic locked room mystery, and they take turns narrating (and undercutting each other’s progress) to the solution.
I will admit that the plot of this third in the series was a wee bit thin, but the characterization more than made up for it. The outcome of the investigation was also a foregone conclusion, but getting there was so much fun that I forgive all. I have every intention of reading the rest of the series, and am thrilled to discover that L.C. Tyler ranks with Sarah Caudwell for intelligent and witty comfort reading.