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Brett, Simon - 'The Torso in the Town' (Unabridged Audiobook) read by Simon Brett
Audio Cassette (2001) Publisher: ISIS Audio Books ISBN: 075311318

Following on from the Charles Paris (failed actor) series and Mrs Pargeter (gangster's widow) series, Simon Brett has turned his attention to skewering middle class, small town life in the Fethering novels. THE TORSO IN THE TOWN is the third in this series which features neighbours Carole (retired civil servant) and Jude (mystery lady) who live in the coastal town of Fethering. Jude is blonde, plump and warm whilst Carole is rigid, severe and "without an ounce of small talk in her body".

Jude has been invited to dinner at the Roxbys who live in Pelling House in the town of Fedborough a few miles upstream on the River Feather. The meal is made memorable when the Roxbys' moody teenage son Harry, instead of sitting down to eat, discovers a boxed torso behind a partition in the cellar. Naturally Jude manages to get a glimpse of the body which appears to have been mummified with the limbs neatly severed.

Carole has been low after her relationship with pub landlord Ted Crisp floundered and Jude decides that a murder investigation is just the thing to pull her out of her slump. Indeed it works, as Carole begins to get interested and telephones her one contact in Fedborough, an interior designer that Carole was considering using, when she was full of hope about her new relationship. The designer, Debbie Carlton, happens to be a former resident of Pelling House, and eagerly invites Carole over to discuss what she knows about the 'body'. This instance of helpfulness is the first of many that Carole and Jude receive as they begin to question the residents of Fedborough including several former owners of the ill fated Pelling House. With no contact with the police, Carole and Jude piece together enough of the case for Jude's life to be threatened, before the truth is finally revealed.

Simon Brett is a master of the amusing amateur detective novel and with a small town full of prejudices and where everybody knows each other's business, he has a field day poking fun at it. I really loved listening to this and the author-narrator does a brilliant job with the voices. The 'working class' locals did sound a bit like Robbie Coltrane's Hagrid from the Harry Potter films. Carole finally discovers Jude's surname, or at least, two of them and she herself considers a few changes to her life. They make a good team and the whodunit is not easily solvable. I can't wait to listen to the next one, MURDER IN THE MUSEUM.

Karen Meek, England
November 2004

Karen blogs at
Euro Crime.

last updated 23/03/2008 20:44