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by Simon Brett
Berkley, August 2005
336 pages
ISBN: 0425202852

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

THE WITNESS AT THE WEDDING is the sixth entry in Simon Brett's Fethering series. To my great delight, it's significantly superior to its immediate predecessor. The main character in this book is Carole Seddon, a divorced retiree. Although not technically estranged from each other, her connection with her son Stephen has been strained for years. To her surprise and delight, his engagement to Gaby Martin has resulted in a closer relationship with her

As the two prepare for their wedding, Carole is perplexed by Gaby's family. Gaby's parents are nothing like their charming, outgoing daughter. In fact, none of Gaby's relatives are at all like her. The Martins exhibit a terror of involvement with the upcoming celebration. Reluctantly they agree to throw an engagement party. Gaby's father disappears that night and his corpse is found shortly thereafter. Concerned for her son, Carole investigates.

Perhaps because the murder is of immediate significance to two friends, the plot in THE WITNESS AT THE WEDDING takes on a greater resonance. Carole, in particular, makes for a great amateur sleuth. Simon Brett does a wonderful job of creating a character that all other things being equal would really rather stay out of the whole mess.

Carole has her ex-husband and his advances, her son's happiness, and her own romantic prospects to contend with. Indeed, she meddles only as much as she deems necessary and that's surprisingly little. Meanwhile, Jude has her own distractions; her houseguest Gita is recovering from a suicide attempt. Brett weaves all these threads together very nicely.

Carole is not a flashy character, but her dry world outlook and unflappability in the face of pressure social and otherwise is refreshingly funny. There are times when she is clearly just as, if not more, concerned with dealing with her ex-husband than discovering who killed Gaby's father.

The other characters show to advantage here as well; Jude works better as a secondary focus and the Martins are nicely delineated. The resolution is not unexpected, but it is plausible and filled with tension. Overall, THE WITNESS AT THE WEDDING is an eminently readable mystery.

Reviewed by Michelle L. Zafron, November 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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