L.C.Tyler’s The Herring-Seller’s Apprentice attracted a good deal of well-deserved attention, introducing as it did two very entertaining characters, unsuccessful crime writer Ethelred Tressider and his long-suffering agent Elsie Thirkettle, in a story which paid agreeable homage to the Golden Age mystery. Tyler’s fourth novel, and his third featuring Ethelred and Elsie, has just been published, and I’ve certainly enjoyed reading it.
You can tell from the pleasing title of The Herring in the Library that again we are in Golden Age territory. Here, Ethelred’s old friend Sir Robert Muntham is found dead in the library of Muntham Court, after a dinner attended by Ethelred, Elsie, and a host of people who had reason to wish Sir Robert harm.
The present day narrative is accompanied by extracts from one of Ethelred’s historical mysteries, featuring Chaucer’s sidekick Master Thomas, investigating a crime which has curious parallels with the case of Sir Robert. Tyler manages, therefore, to poke fun at two different kinds of detective story in the course of one novel.
There are plenty of jokes, as well as a witty finale, and I can imagine the author’s delight in having Sir Robert’s comely widow saying to Ethelred, ‘I’ve always found crime writers irresistibly attractive. Most women do.’ Alas, it’s a reminder that this is a work of inventive fiction! I am a Len Tyler fan, and his work is one of my favourite discoveries of the last few years. This is another very agreeable read.