Herring on the Nile is the 4th of the Elsie and Ethelred mysteries by L C Tyler.
Newly wealthy Ethelred Tressider decides to spend some of his inherited wealth by embarking on a research trip for his latest Egypt set book by sailing up the Nile on the luxury paddle steamer Khedive. His intended companion was the attractive widow of the late Lord Muntham (the source of the inherited wealth – see The Herring in the Library) but things rarely go according to plan for Ethelred and so accompanying him is his agent Elsie Thirkettle.
The first passenger Ethelred sets eyes on is inept Private Eye Herbie Proctor who tells him that he is there to protect his client who he does not name. The rest of the passengers prove to be an odd bunch – Mr Pirbright thinks Ethelred is the Ex-MI5 spy turned author Paul Fielder and 2 Egyptians travelling on the boat tell Elsie they are undercover detectives chasing two criminals who they won’t name; overhearing other disjointed conversations, Ethelred and Elsie conclude that all the other passengers are a pretty shady bunch.
What makes L C Tylers books so good is that he keeps the classic crime formula on one level such as playing fair with the reader whilst turning into a farce on another.
The not-quite-pastiche but not-quite-homage to Agatha Christie is excellently done.
If you like Simon Brett and are looking for another author in that vein of a good detective story that might also make you laugh out loud at times – L C Tyler is a great choice.
On one hand I wish that I had discovered him earlier but on the other I would have been very impatient about the the gap between this book (published in July 2011) and the next Elsie and Ethelred mystery – Crooked Herring published in September 2014 which is very near the top of my to-be-read pile so there will be a review soon.