Review for The Body on the Beach, by Simon Brett

A fun case of mixed up corpses, but I was disappointed in the "villain".

The novel starts off with the exceptionally proper Carole discovering a body washed up on the beach where she walks her dog. By the time she gets back home, washes the salt off the dog, cleans the kitchen, and reports the body, however, it's not there anymore for the police to find. And the next morning it's back...or is it?

The plot started off smashingly. Probably two different bodies, a bohemian neighbor with secrets of her own, and a lovely collection of interesting characters with their own issues and motives. Perhaps it was just that I've been into mysteries lately, but I saw through a few of the plot lines right away. I didn't see through the main one, though, and I confess that's because I was expecting something...bigger, in some way. The original motive, while prepared for well, seemed to have been executed horribly, for what struck me as a bizarre reason (does that mean I'm not killer material? I'm crushed). So many of the plot-enforced delays ended up being entirely avoidable that it seemed a wonder the bad guy even got started.

The subplot involving the teenagers really seemed like it was just there to toss so many red herrings across my path. It worked, but when all was said and done, I didn't really have a feeling of satisfaction from solving that mystery. In part, it was tragic, but in another regard, it seemed overblown.

I liked most of the characters, and those I didn't were generally fleshed out enough to make me decide not to like them on their personality, rather than because they weren't fleshed out enough. The group of teenage boys felt a bit awkward as it pertained to the rest of the characters, but I think that was the point.

Carole and Jude both have POV scenes in this book (it is written in 3rd person, thank God), and I really enjoyed how the author managed to work in Jude's investigations without giving away her secretive past very much. Jude basically operated entirely in the present moment, and thanks to her neighbor Carole's English reticence, no major questions ever got asked, and so were not answered, leaving Jude smugly ensconced in her mystery.

I think she's a former spy, myself. :P

As previously mentioned, this mystery was written in 3rd person, which I always prefer to 1st person. So many of the cozy mysteries I read are 1st person POV, and while that usually works for the genre, it gets on my nerves. I really enjoyed this break, with its two disparate protagonists.

3 of 5 stars.

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