Friday, March 12, 2010

The Stabbing in the Stables by Simon Brett

14. The Stabbing in the Stables - seventh in the Fethering series
by Simon Brett
mystery, 2006
library book
finished, 3/12/10

This is a series in which the characters do grow and change as the books go on. When we first met Carole and Jude they were pretty much stereotypes: Carole - the well-controlled, tidy, retired civil servant, and Jude - the free-spirit, alternative therapist, with an unknown past. By this, the seventh in the series, they have moved out of their rigid roles, and each of them bends a bit in understanding the other. They are neighbors in the south coast town of Fethering, England. They have become quite close friends and partners in solving crimes of murder.

The murder in this book is of a man who used to be quite a famous horseback rider until a fall from a horse stopped his career. For the past several years, he and his wife have run a boarding facility for horses. They don't have much money and their place is falling down around them. They have to put up with fussy, demanding, sometimes aggressive clients to pay the bills. When Jude finds his body, we discover that there are many secrets in this 'horsey' world. The mystery was quite satisfying, and I did enjoy spending time with these two women again.

Now, a caveat. There is a subplot involving cruelty to horses. I'm the first one to run a mile when I see such a thing in books, but it was mentioned maybe five or six times, and I moved my eyes right along so I didn't read the details. It does connect in the end to the murder.

I think a lot of people who don't read cozy mysteries think that they are quite mild and even humorous. Well, that can be true. But they can also offer sordid facts about individual characters. After all, murder is not pretty even in a cozy. There is a particularly awful man in this book whose actions are appalling.

Each book in the series spotlights a different facet of life, such as modern pubs in England or the New Age movement. This one focuses on the seedier aspects of the rural rich and horses. I did enjoy it. I stayed up till 2 am last night to finish, though there is the abuse factor which made it more difficult for me.


  1. I love this series, Nan. Have you read Simon Brett's Charles Paris mysteries? A charming actor who is for ever becoming entangled with corpses!

  2. I haven't read this series, but I think I told you that I read one of his other series about Mrs. Pargeter. She, as I recall, is the widow of a thief or something. It's been a long time. Think I picked the first one up because it sounded like Mrs. Pollifax. :-)

  3. I hate to say this and dampen anyone's enthusiasm for a series they enjoy, but I couldn't even finish the first in this series, it was so daft. I thought the Agatha Raison books were daft enough but this took the biscuit (or cookie, whichever side of the pond you're on.) I must be missing something as both series are well liked (and I did give old Agatha a chance: I read four in that series, but concluded life was too short to waste time on any more of them.) Don't get me wrong - I love light hearted books and humourous writing, but these, to me, were just silly. Oh what a misery I must sound!
    Margaret P

  4. Kay, I remember reading about Mrs. Pargeter, but the idea didn't capture my interest enough to pick up the first one. Not like 'our' Emily P. I think!

    Margaret, this is what I wrote when I read the first in the series:
    ' I thought this book was good, ok, but not great. Still it interested me enough to try the next one in the series.' I liked the second even better, and so it has gone on. In one of the books we met Carole's son, which gave a new dimension to her life. You don't sound like a 'misery.' Everyone likes different books. This series isn't my favorite in the world, but I am interested in the women and like to check in on them from time to time. Oh, and we say 'takes the cake!'

  5. I've enjoyed this series, as well. While at the library the other day, I was thinking of this series, but couldn't remember the author's name.
    Thanks for reminding me!

  6. Jenclair, that has happened to me a lot reading blogs, too. I am reminded of a series I used to enjoy and haven't read in a while. In this book, I felt the author writing a bit more kindly toward Carole -it always felt to me that Jude was his 'favorite.' :<)

  7. I agree with you on the subject of cozies. I love to read them but they aren't pretty. To me they are a more civilized way of looking at a nasty side of life. I will have to say that I find Agatha Christie's books to often be very humorous.

  8. Margot, I think Mr Poirot adds comic relief to her murderous situations. :<) I just love him. I've not begun my Miss Marple reading yet except for a story. I was enchanted by Joan Hickson and loved her quiet humor.

  9. Hi, it's me blathering on again. Re cozies, the best are by Hazel Holt, Margot. I hope you have read some of hers, but if not, get the list, in chronological order, from and start with the first one and read through the list. I suggest this because there is a 'back story' which develops - the protagonist is a retired academic, Sheila Malory, and the stories are set in and around Exmoor on the Devon/Somerset border here in England. For anyone who loves cozies, these excellent storeis by Hazel Holt should be number one on their list.

  10. I second your recommendation, Margaret! I love Mrs Malory, and need to get the 5th in the series.


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