Elsie deposited onto the wet table a pint of beer for me and a lemonade for herself. Alcohol was not her vice. Chocolate was.
I placed my glass on a beer mat, the one small dry island on an oak table well watered by its previous occupants. Elsie plonked her glass unconcerned in the beer lake that lapped around it. She was dressed that lunch-time in a sort of turban and long flowing garment that I would have had difficulty in giving a precise name to, though I did not doubt that it was the height of fashion. Elsie was a small plump woman who insisted on dressing like a tall willowy one. It was a strange vanity for somebody who was, on the whole, entirely free of vanities of any sort.
‘So they gave you a grilling, did they?’ she asked, rescuing the dampening sleeve of her robe from its place on the table…
I still can’t remember why I bought it, and I had no very great expectations at all. But in fact I enjoyed it hugely, I found it very clever and entertaining. And that’s despite the fact that I didn’t have much problem solving the crime – that could have been a deal-breaker, but in this particular case I enjoyed watching how carefully the author worded his narrative.
Crime writer Ethelred Tressider and his agent, Elsie, are investigating the disappearance and then the murder of his ex-wife. There is an alternating narrative, a lot of jokes about the literary and crime fiction worlds, some pastiche, and some unreliable narrating. It could have been an unfunny disaster, but actually it was great fun, and I was delighted to see that there are more books in the series. Elsie is an absolutely splendid character, and I hope the books will follow her for a long time to come. She must be ripe for translation to TV – Dawn French?
The clothes description sounded like Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. The pictures are of Angela Lansbury, who has played the part – but the costume suggests they are from Death on the Nile, where she plays Salome Otterbourne, a noted wearer of turbans. One of the photos is described on the internet as being from The Mirror Crack’d, but hardly likely – she plays Miss Marple in that. (And of course Ms Lansbury is a noted solver of crimes as TV's Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote.)
Links on the blog: there are turban-wearers among the Jane Austen characters here.
The splendid Mysteries in Paradise crime fiction blog has a 'New To Me' meme, and this is my contribution.