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Murder in the Museum (Fethering Mysteries) Hardcover – August 5, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Brett's fourth chatty, genteel Fethering mystery (after 2002's The Torso in the Town), Carole Seddon finds herself a member of the Bracketts Trust, which is responsible for the upkeep of Bracketts, former home of West Sussex litterateur Esmond Chadleigh. Tension arises between the Trust's new director, Gina Locke, who represents the new world of "management structures," and former trustee Sheila Cartwright, who's from the old school of local volunteers. While they wrangle over Bracketts's future, a skeleton turns up in the garden. Though it's obviously been there a long time, Sheila does her best to keep this disturbing find quiet. When a female American academic shows up to research a new biography of Chadleigh, she's stonewalled by the Trust's dawdling biographer-elect and grandson of the author, Graham Chadleigh-Bewes. Clearly something more than mere footnotes is being concealed. Eager to ferret out the truth, the uptight Carole is unable to rely on her usual partner-in-detection, the liberated Jude Nichols, since Jude is looking after a dying former lover. At times, subtle character interaction, at which Brett excels, threatens to take over the novel, but the mystery gathers steam after another, fresher body appears. Even Jude and lover have a part to play in its resolution, and Brett provides a shocking revelation or two at the end to bring a proper ending to a proper story.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The kitchen garden of a stately home in the Sussex village of Fethering is the final resting place for two bodies: one buried there during World War I and newly discovered; the other landing in the ground 90 years later, the result of a single gunshot. Brett delivers a deft mixture of history-mystery and contemporary thriller in this latest installment in his Fethering series starring the prickly, fiftysomething amateur sleuth, Carole Sedden, who is on site for the discovery of both bodies. Carole has been asked to serve on the board of trustees for a stately home once inhabited by one of the most famous Catholic poets of the Great War. Brett, who sends up backstage backbiting in his Charles Paris theatrical mysteries, applies the same caustic wit to the desperate gamesmanship of board meetings and village politics. The appearance of an American professor who wants to write a biography of the Catholic poet throws the board into a satisfyingly snide uproar. The contemporary murder is a feat of planning, a sort of mirror image of the locked-room puzzle in which the killing takes place in the open air, with Sedden walking right next to the victim. Another marvelous mix of social satire and traditional cozy. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Fethering Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover; 1 edition (August 5, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425190439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425190432
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 26, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I would have thought that Murder in the Museum was even more contrived than it is if I hadn't known an American woman who sought to write an "authorized" biography of a prominent Englishwoman from the same period as the fictional Esmond Chadleigh. Clearly, Simon Brett must have run into one of those overly protective families during his life . . . and was inspired to write this ironic account of our "minor" figures get treated like royalty if they happen to be your relative.

In a place like South Stapley, you have to contrive to create murders because this is an area not known for its violent crime. But the contrivance in this story is too much. You'll see the creaky plot outlines stretching out in front of you as you ponder on the poor editing in the book. Clearly, this book was written under a tight deadline.

In this fourth outing of the Fethering mystery series, Carole Seddon is improbably on the board of trustees for Bracketts House, the home of minor poet, children's story author, and essayist Esmond Chadleigh. Carole finds she's made a mistake, but events intervene to keep her on the board before she can decently resign. The trustees are in a flap because the foundation is short of operating money, wants to build an addition, and an American scholar has expressed interest in writing what may be a somewhat irreverent biography of the departed author. Matters become more complex when a human skull (with an extra hole) is unexpectedly excavated in the garden. In addition, the new director and the former director are battling it out for power.

Jude, in the meantime, has received an old lover, Laurence Hawker, who smokes and drinks as much as ever. Carole isn't thrilled by this "intrusion" on her increasingly friendly relationship with Jude.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. S. Palmer on December 6, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Your enjoyment of the Fethering Series will depend more upon your like or dislike of the two protagonists than on the story lines themselves, most of which are modestly serviceable. Solid characterization can forgive a multitude of plot sins, but sadly there is little that is redeeming in either instance.

Protagonist #1: Mrs. Carole Seddon is priggish and prudish, but polite; she is a retired civil servant with "predictable" middle class mores. Brett would like us to believe that Carole Seddon is like *all* middle class people: uptight, humorless and asexual. As a character, Carole Seddon is certainly not warm and fuzzy, but why does Brett feel the need to demean, albeit subtly, her "middle class" attitudes of discretion, circumspection and civility? In doing so, Carole Seddon's character is a pastiche of flimsy stereotypes conjured up from the battle lines of class warfare, and as such, it soon tires the insightful reader.

Protagonist #2: Jude. That's right, "Jude" apparently has no surname, middle name nor any honorific. Like "Madonna" and "Lassie," Jude is known by a one word moniker, and I personally found this pretentious contrivance rather annoying. In direct contrast to Carole, her "middle class" counterpart, Jude is sensitive, unconventional, direct to the verge of rudeness, and a dilettante of alternative therapies. She understands -- and even helps heal -- psychotic, antisocial offenders and other such *misunderstood* folk. Jude consumes vast quantities of wine, and freely offers her ample, middle-aged body to the men of her choosing. In short, She's a cross between Mother Earth and Dr. Phil, with a bit of Linda Lovelace thrown in for good measure.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By S. Wheeler on December 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Boo! These Fethering mysteries are way below par. What makes Brett's other work so great is the wit and polish of writing and the great characterization. Neither quality is apparent in this series. The two main characters are shallow stereotypes of the middle-class civil servant and the free spirit who have somehow come together over an interminable glass of white wine. To compare these to a Miss Marple is ludicrous. This one is particularly inane...the deep, dark family secret, the weak nephew, the vicious do-gooder, the ambitious administrator, the self-important bureaucrat, the unprincipled American academic (by the way, Americans do not pronounce "God" as "Gard"), the escaped convict and even the handicapped child! Please. Can we have more Charles Paris? Less white wine and more Bell's??
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By Meep on May 22, 2014
Format: Audible Audio Edition
I'm pretty baffled by some of the bad reviews here, especially the ones that criticize these Fethering Mysteries for not being Charles Paris mysteries. So, just for the record, let me state that this is not a Charles Paris mystery, it is a Fethering mystery featuring Jude and Carole. Please do not read this expecting Charles Paris, because he is not here.
The reader, as always, is excellent. The mystery is unsurprising, but pleasantly set up. I thought that the series was developing an unpleasant habit of having one or other of the protagonists get into some sort of life threatening situation towards the end of each book, however there is a pleasant and unexpected twist to this one that surprised me. What I enjoyed most about this one, and what makes it my favorite in the series so far, is the fact that it seems to be a discussion of the relationship between outlook and perception. It is more about this than it is a mystery, or a story about two dissimilar women being friends and solving mysteries. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book, and thought it was examined with subtlety and complexity. For example, Jude has an old friend who shows up unexpectedly and turns out to be very ill, and the portrayal of this character and Jude's response to him, Carols response to him, other characters responses to him, as well as my own response to him was particularly interesting for me to think about. I like the way Brett presents us with multiple outlooks and approaches to life in this book, and does not necessarily judge them (though it helps if you've read the preceding books, because this particular one is more about Jude than Carol) but just presents them. If you look at them, and then your own reactions to them, you can have some fun. Also, the last chapter, wrapping up all the various characters and what happened to them, is a real treat if you have that kind of sense of humor. It's classic Brett. I really enjoyed it.
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