Herring on the Nile is the fifth novel to be published by L.C. (Len) Tyler, and the fourth in the entertaining series featuring mid-list crime writer Ethelred Tressider and his not entirely loyal literary agent, Elsie Thirkettle. It was published a few months ago, and I've been deplorably slow in getting around to write a review. But the first thing to say is that the book is well up to standard, with plenty of excellent jokes.
As the title indicates, the setting is a trip on the Nile, taken by our doughty duo and an assortment of eccentrics, quite a few of whom have names familiar to any student of the crime genre. The echoes of Agatha Christie are unmistakable. But really, even if you are not a Christie buff, there is much here to enjoy.
In particular, there is a running gag in which Ethelred gives answers to set questions from various regional newspapers, and the result is a sequence of very funny lines. I should also declare an interest, in that in one of his answers, Ethelred gives a long list of present day writers whom he enjoys and who influences his work - and I happen to be one of them. This paragraph amused me much as no doubt it will amuse everyone else who is mentioned.
Writing comic crime fiction is very difficult indeed, and it's a sub-genre that isn't to every reader's taste. Over the years there have been plenty of dire efforts at this very demanding form, and only a select band of successes - examples who spring to mind include Colin Watson and Simon Brett. But Len Tyler is in the top division when it comes to writing funny mysteries. Long may Ethelred flourish!