Book Review: The Clutter Corpse and Other Murders

Simon Brett photo
Author Simon Brett

Over to Zvezdana!

Simon Brett’s new leading character is Ellen Curtis, an amateur sleuth and decluttering expert. She even owns a decluttering agency, SpaceWoman, in Chichester. Her business grew from a casual favour, but when she finds a corpse in the old house, her world will change its course forever.

Glancing around my living room, God forbid peeping into the wardrobes, I feel that Ellen would be quite in her environment if she suddenly wandered into my flat. As many of us did during the lockdown, I attacked the clutter very fearlessly, at least for the first few days. Afterwards, the Proust effect took over and I was left almost choking on madeleine biscuits. Wherever you look, the ghosts of the past are waiting for the right time to ambush you.  I do not call myself a hoarder, but the idea of a professional declutterer sounds very appealing to me. Going through anyone’s accumulated belongings would make a good detective story, perhaps with the rosebud effect; even without hidden corpses. So, from the start I have been captivated by even the idea of Simon Brett’s new heroine and book. 

Ellen’s personal problems, her family history and how she deals with depression, make her very likeable and believable.  The backstory of The Clutter Corpse is almost as interesting as the main who-done-it thread.  Ellen joins other Brett’s famous amateur sleuths – a widow Mrs Melita Pargeter,  aging actor Charles Paris, and the Fethering ladies, Carol and Jude.  They are not flawless detectives; they gossip, they cheat, usually drink too much, have considerable memory baggage. They are mostly middle-aged people who frequently do not know how to deal with personal and other issues. That is exactly what makes them real; sometimes I like them and other times I just want to argue with them!

Humour and irony lace all Brett’s novels and characters. Be aware. It is hazardous reading Brett’s novels on public transport, especially now – with masks on and shaking with laughter.

I look forward to more in this series and expect to be delightfully entertained, as usual.  

If Zvezdana’s recommendation has piqued your interest, check out our (free!) Simon Brett event! Hear the author speak about his new book, The Clutter Corpse and Other Murders, and ask him any burning questions you may have! Tickets can be booked at the link here.

Clutter Corpse is available to download from our cloudLibrary here.  All you need is an RBKC library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry,  just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources. 

Recommended Reads

This week, our Book of the Week is the Phantom of the Opera. Because Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical has taken over the public imagination of The Phantom, all of the Recommended Reads this week are books which have been transformed for the stage. Lights, sound…action!

Continue reading “Recommended Reads”

Recommended Reads

This week, our Book of the Week is The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste. Set during Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King is an exhilarating tale of a band of female fighters refusing to submit to European colonisation. If you’ve already been wowed by Mengiste’s novel, we’ve selected some empowering reads for you to enjoy.

 

forna-memory-of-love-coverThe Memory of Love, by Aminatta Forna

Set in Sierra Leone, Forna’s novel explores the physical and psychological impact of warfare alongside the love which endures through horrific circumstances. The Memory of Love follows the lives of three people; Elias Cole, dying and reflecting on his obsessive love for Saffia, Adrian Lockheart, a psychologist new to the country, and Kai Mansaray, a young colleague of Adrian’s. Recording their loves, their friendships and their suffering, Forna’s novel is a poignant reminder of what makes us human and the emotions which bind us all together.

 

broken glass book cover

Broken Glass, by Alain Mabanckou

Broken Glass, frequenter of Congolese bar ‘Credit Gone West’ has been commissioned by the bar’s owner to write an account of the characters who comprise the bar’s patrons. A disgraced alcoholic and former schoolteacher, Broken Glass records his writings in his notebook. The notebook is Glass’s legacy, dedicated to his love of French literature and to his former drinking buddies.

 

 

a tall history of sugar book coverA Tall History of Sugar, by Curdella Forbes

Moshe Fisher has always been treated differently. “Born without skin” and abandoned at birth, Moshe’s appearance defies racial categories. Arrienne Christie is Moshe’s best friend, determined to protect him from the world and its intolerance. A Tall History of Sugar follows Moshe’s life from Jamaica, and the colonial legacy left behind there, to Britain and the looming uncertainty of Brexit. Forbes’ writing is a lyrical blend of Jamaican Englishes, recounting Jamaican histories and stories through Moshe and the people he encounters.

hidden figures book cover

Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly

Now an iconic motion picture, Hidden Figures follows three brilliant African American women whose minds launched America into space. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson initially worked as human computers for NASA. Forced into the background as a part of a female team of calculators, whose job was to solve problems for the male engineers, Dorothy, Katherine, and Mary fought against racial segregation and sexism in an incredibly male-dominated field. Shetterly focusses on Katherine Johnson in particular, and her work calculating rocket trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo missions. Johnson pushed herself forward throughout her career, and, when her abilities were recognised, she could attend all-male meetings within NASA. This is an incredible and insightful biography and well worth a read!

Some of these books are available to download from our cloudLibrary here.  All you need is an RBKC library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry,  just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources. 

Recommended Reads

This week’s Book of the Week is A Streetcat Named Bob, by James Bowen. Fittingly, our theme this week is cats, so we have put together a list of feline-centred novels for you to flick through and enjoy!

Continue reading “Recommended Reads”

Recommended Reads

This week’s Book of the Week is The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, which deals with racial abuse and trauma in 1940’s America. We have put together a list of similarly anti-racist titles for you to look through and borrow.

Continue reading “Recommended Reads”

Recommended Reads

Our Book of the Week this week is Call for the Dead by John le Carré, a spy novel introducing the now-infamous George Smiley. We have put together a list of similar spy thrillers and non-fiction exposés for you to enjoy today.

Continue reading “Recommended Reads”

Recommended Reads

This week’s Book of the Week is The Hunting Party, by Lucy Foley. New to the crime writing scene, Foley has already been shortlisted for a number of awards for her chilling writing style. We have put together a list of similar crime novels for you to enjoy. Happy reading!

 

no going back book coverNo Going Back, by Sheena Kamal

Nora has a talent for reading people and discovering their deepest secrets, but this skill can’t solve all her problems. Nora’s teenage daughter, Bonnie, is being targeted by a Chinese crime organisation. After rescuing her daughter from their clutches two years ago, Nora must now track them down to ensure the crime bosses do not enact their revenge. Her search will span the globe, but Nora must do what is necessary to keep herself and her family safe.

 

dear wife book coverDear Wife, by Kimberly Belle

Beth is on the run, covering her tracks to escape an abusive husband. Sabine is missing, her car lying abandoned, seemingly kidnapped or worse. As the police search for any leads, the case becomes progressively convoluted. Where is Sabina? And who is Beth?

 

 

we begin at the end book coverWe Begin at the End, by Chris Whitaker

Vincent King, recently released from prison after doing 30 years for murder, is back in Cape Haven, California. But not everyone is happy about his return; especially Star, the sister of the woman Vincent murdered all those years ago. When Star’s daughter, Duchess, inadvertently sets off a chain of events leading to tragic consequences, the past appears to repeat itself. Can the family escape this doomed cycle?

 

lakewood book coverLakewood, by Megan Giddings

When Lena’s grandmother dies, the scale of her family’s debt is revealed. Lena decides to drop out of college and take a job in the mysterious town of Lakewood, Michigan. On paper, the job looks perfect. Medical expenses covered, excellent pay… All for the price of secrecy. Behind closed doors, Lakewood is home to a programme of intense human experimentation. But underneath the utopian promise that these medical experiments could ‘change the world’ is a very real threat to black bodies. How can Lena protect her family when she cannot tell them the truth?

 

These books are available to download from our cloudLibrary here.  All you need is an RBKC library card and if you are not a member, just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources. 

Recommended Reads

Our Book of the Week this week is A House Through Time by David Olusoga and Melanie Backe, which looks at British history through the lens of our homes. We have put together a list of similar non-fiction titles for you to look through and enjoy. Happy reading!

 

black and british book cover

Black and British, by David Olusoga

Published to accompany Olusoga’s BBC 2 series of the same name, Black and British calls for a re-examination of our nation’s history. Olusoga’s work illustrates how Black British history is all around us and has been for thousands of years. From Roman nobility, to medieval courtiers, to modern day street names, black and white Britons’ intertwined past is laid bare for all to read.

 

the anarchy book cover

The Anarchy, by William Dalrymple

In his in-depth examination of the East India Company, Dalrymple charts the transformation of the organisation from multinational trade company to aggressive colonial army. Within 40 years of its inception, the Company had amassed a security force of over 200 000 men, using them to subjugate the entirety of India by 1803. The Anarchy reveals the horrific exploits of the first global corporate power for a chilling account of Victorian colonialism.

 

love in the blitz book coverLove in the Blitz, by  Eileen Alexander

Told in letters, Love in the Blitz illustrates the lives of a couple, Eileen and Gershon, torn apart by war. Although Gershon’s letters have been lost to history, Eileen’s remain as a testament to their love. These letters are an incredibly intimate portrayal of life in London during WW2, particularly as they so eloquently illustrate the lives of women living and working during the Blitz. This is a must-read for any fan of wartime history, providing an inside perspective into the realities of living and loving through war.

 

in the land of men book cover

In the Land of Men, by Adrienne Miller

This fiercely personal memoir is Miller’s account of coming of age as a woman writer in the journalism industry. Miller was hired as an editorial assistant in her early twenties at GQ, dealing with misogyny and the unquestioned authority of powerful male egos on a daily basis. Miller’s book charts her journey to the top of her industry, making it an empowering read for any woman wanting to push the boundaries of her glass ceiling.

 

Some of these books are available to download from our cloudLibrary here.  All you need is an RBKC library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry,  just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources. 

Recommended Reads

This week’s Book of the Week is The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was born on the 21st July 1899, this week marking his 121st birthday. We have put together a list of similar titles for you to look through and enjoy.

life of pi pic

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

The Patel family decide to sell their zoo in India and sail to Canada with a few remaining animals. Suddenly, tragedy strikes in the form of a horrendous storm, leaving the Patel’s son Pi as the sole human survivor. However, Pi is not alone in the ocean; a fearsome Bengal tiger has also survived the storm. The pair must learn to trust one another over the coming months if they are to last their voyage.

 

the great gatsby book cover

 

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s most famous work, The Great Gatsby, has been heralded as a modern American classic. When young and impressionable Nick moves in next door to extravagant millionaire Gatsby, he is drawn into a series of events leading to catastrophic consequences. Gatsby spares no expense in his attempts to win over childhood love Daisy, now married to old-money brute Tom Buchanan, and Nick can only bear witness to his friend’s downfall.

 

the alchemist book pic

 

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Originally written in Portuguese, The Alchemist has become an international bestseller. It is an allegorical novel, following the life of an Andalusian shepherd named Santiago who dreams of finding treasure in the pyramids of Egypt. Believing his dream to be prophetic, Santiago journeys to Egypt to seek his fortune. There, he experiences love, loss, and adventure in a powerful and moving tale.

 

if beale street could talk book pic

 

If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin

Set in Harlem in the 1970’s, Baldwin’s classic is a love story following the lives of Fonny, a sculptor, and Tish, the book’s narrator. When Fonny is falsely accused of rape, Tish, 19 and pregnant, must help their families win justice for her lover. Past and present mingle to form a passionate and powerful novel, widely regarded as an essential read for our time.

All of these books are available to download from our cloudLibrary here.  All you need is a RBKC library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry,  just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources.

Recommended Reads

Our Book of the Week this week is Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which is an historical novel centred around the French Revolution. We have collated some more historical novels dealing with a number of different time periods for you to browse through and enjoy! Continue reading “Recommended Reads”