Continuing this award-winning author’s entertaining pastiche of the late, great Dame Agatha’s work, Herring on the Nile takes novelist Ethelred Tressider and his literary agent Elsie Thirkettle down the murderous waters of the Nile. And here we have a spot-on update to contemporary times with a plot involving a terrorist angle.
Ethelred, in need of performing some research to write his latest novel, has booked a Nile cruise and his latest paramour Annabelle, Lady Muntham has dropped out at the last minute. This provides Elsie with an opportunity to spend some time on a well-appointed paddle steamer. Well she would, wouldn’t she? How could she possibly resist? But as Ethelred notes:
If I’d noticed any references in the tour brochure to a dead body floating in the Nile or to the cold barrel of a gun pointing at a spot precisely midway between my eyes, I might have decided south Wales in a blizzard was in fact much the better option. But perhaps they’d hidden that sort of stuff in the small print, along with the fuel surcharges. They often do, I find.
Yes, it’s not long before Ethelred’s life is threatened and what follows involves mistaken identity, perceived mistaken identity, misunderstanding, stretching truths, downright lying and a little bit of violence. Also, being trademark Tyler there is humour and some of it focuses on a writer’s life. In Herring on the Nile, Elsie has set up a number of interviews for Ethelred which he conscientiously completes by email even where the questions are inappropriate.
Reading the next Herring is like meeting up with old friends and enjoying a good banter, with a good many laughs along the way. The Herring on the Nile was simply a novel that had to be written for this series: a classic updated in Tyler’s own unique style.
I hope we will read even more of Elsie and Ethelred in the future and I’d like to see two things happen: less dialogue in the prose where Nile occasionally felt like it was flowing into the waters of a script; more of Elsie actually doing her job as opposed to talking about it. Wouldn’t it be fun if Elsie was in the middle of a frantic auction at the same as an investigation?
Herring on the Nile: best read for pure enjoyment, escapism and R&R. Panama hat optional, laughter not.