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Authors: Simon Brett

The Body on the Beach



‘A new Simon Brett is an event for mystery fans’

P. D. James

‘Murder most enjoyable . . . An author who never takes himself that seriously, and for whom any fictional murder can frequently form part
of the entertainment industry’

Colin Dexter,

‘A crime novel in the traditional style, with delightful little touches of humour and vignettes of a small town and its bitchy inhabitants’

Sunday Telegraph

‘With a smidge of adultery thrown in, some wise observations about stagnant marriages, disillusioned lovers and the importance of friendship, and, of
course, plenty of whiffy red herrings, it all makes for a highly enjoyable read’

Daily Mail

‘This is lovely stuff, as comforting – and as unputdownable – as a Sussex cream tea. More please’

Brighton Evening Argus

‘Crime writing just like in the good old days, and perfect entertainment’


‘I stayed up until three in the morning and chewed off two fingernails finishing this delightful, thoroughly English whodunnit’

Daily Mail

‘Simon Brett comes up trumps yet again . . . an excellent thriller but also a well-observed social commentary’

Irish News

‘One of the exceptional detective story writers around’

Daily Telegraph

‘[Brett is] highly commended for atmosphere and wit’

Evening Standard

‘Simon Brett writes stunning detective stories . . . I would recommend them to anyone’

Jilly Cooper

‘Simon Brett is a man of many talents . . . totally engrossing and unusually funny’

London Life Magazine

‘For readers who like their crime told elegantly and light-heartedly, with a wit which bubbles throughout plot and narrative . . . pure
pleasure from beginning to end’

Birmingham Post

‘One of the wittiest crime writers around’

Antonia Fraser


Simon Brett
worked as a producer in radio and television before taking up writing full time. As well as the Mrs Pargeter novels and the Charles
Paris detective series, he is the author of the radio and television series
After Henry
, the radio series
No Commitments
Smelling of Roses
and the bestselling
How to Be
a Little Sod
. His novel
A Shock to the System
was filmed starring Michael Caine.

Married with three grown-up children, Simon lives in an Agatha Christie-style village on the South Downs.

The Body on the Beach
is the first novel in the Fethering Mysteries series. Simon Brett’s most recent novel,
Death Under the Dryer
, is out now in Macmillan hardback.


Also by Simon Brett

A Shock to the System

Dead Romantic

Singled Out

The Fethering Mysteries

Death on the Downs

The Torso in the Town

Murder in the Museum

The Hanging in the Hotel

The Witness at the Wedding

The Stabbing in the Stables

Death Under the Dryer

Mrs Pargeter novels

A Nice Class of Corpse

Mrs, Presumed Dead

Mrs Pargeter’s Package

Mrs Pargeter’s Pound of Flesh

Mrs Pargeter’s Plot

Mrs Pargeter’s Point of Honour

Charles Paris novels

Cast, In Order of Disappearance

So Much Blood

Star Trap

An Amateur Corpse

A Comedian Dies

The Dead Side of Mike

Situation Tragedy

Murder Unprompted

Murder in the Title

Not Dead, Only Resting

Dead Giveaway

What Bloody Man Is That?

A Series of Murders

Corporate Bodies

A Reconstructed Corpse

Sicken and So Die

Dead Room Farce

Short stories

A Box of Tricks

Crime Writers and Other Animals



First published 2000 by Macmillan

First published in paperback 2001 by Pan Books

This electronic edition published 2009 by Pan Books
an imprint of Pan Macmillan Ltd
Pan Macmillan, 20 New Wharf Rd, London N1 9RR
Basingstoke and Oxford
Associated companies throughout the world

ISBN 978-0-330-46735-3 in Adobe Reader format
ISBN 978-0-330-46734-6 in Adobe Digital Editions format
ISBN 978-0-330-46736-0 in Mobipocket format

Copyright © Simon Brett 2000

The right of Simon Brett to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

You may not copy, store, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this publication (or any part of it) in any form, or by any means (electronic, digital,
optical, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be
liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

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Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One


To Keith

who knows this part of the world

(and many others)

Chapter One

Fethering is on the South Coast, not far from Tarring. Though calling itself a village, Fethering isn’t what that word immediately brings to the minds of people nostalgic
for an idealized, simpler England. Despite the presence of many components of a village – one church, one shop, one pub, one petrol station, and a whole bunch of people who reckon
they’re the squire – Fethering is in fact quite a large residential conurbation.

The core is its High Street, some of whose flint-faced cottages date back to the early eighteenth century. The peasant simplicities of these buildings, sufficient for their original fishermen
owners, have been enhanced by mains drainage, gas central heating, sealed-unit leaded windows and very high price tags.

Out from the High Street, during the last century and a half, have spread, in a semicircle whose diameter is the sea, wave after wave of new developments. The late Victorians and Edwardians
added a ring of solid, respectable family homes. Beyond these, in the 1930s, an arc of large, unimaginative slabs sprang up, soon to be surrounded by an infestation of bungalows. In the post-war
period some regimented blocks of council housing were built in an area to the north of the village and named, by planners devoid of irony, Downside. Then in the late 1950s there burgeoned an
expensive private estate of vast houses backing on to the sea. This compound, called Shorelands, was circumscribed by stern walls and sterner regulations. From that time on, stricter planning laws
and a growing sense of its own exclusivity had virtually stopped any further development in Fethering.

The roads into the village are all regularly interrupted by speed humps. Though tourism plays a significant part in the local economy, strangers to the area are never quite allowed to feel

Because of its seaside location, the village boasts a Yacht Club, a cluster of seafront cafés and a small but tasteful amusements arcade. During the winter, of these the Yacht Club alone
remains open, and to members only. But open all the year round along the front are the rectangles of glass-sided shelters, havens by day to swaddled pensioners killing a little time, and by night
to amorous local teenagers. In spite of the overpowering gentility of the area, and ferociously deterrent notices about vandalism, the glass of the shelters gets broken on a regular basis.

Fethering is set at the mouth of the Fether. Though called a ‘river’, it would be little more than a stream but for the effects of the tides, which twice a day turn a lethargic
trickle into a torrent of surprising malevolence. A sea wall, stretching out beyond the low-water mark, protects the beach from the Fether’s turbulence. This wall abuts the Fethering Yacht
Club, which controls access to the promenade on top. Only Yacht Club members, and some local fishermen who keep their blue-painted equipment boxes there, are allowed the precious keys which give
access to this area. Against the wall, on the beachward side, is the cement ramp down which the boats of the Fethering Yacht Club flotilla reach the water.

The sea goes out a long way at Fethering, revealing a vast, flat expanse of sludge-coloured sand. When the tide is high, only pebbles show, piled high against the footpath and the wooden
breakwaters that stretch out from it like the teeth of a comb. Between the path and the start of the houses, lower than the highest part of the beach, is a strip of tough, short grass. At spring
tides, or after heavy rain, pools of water break up the green. The road which separates this grass from the start of the houses is rather imaginatively called Seaview Road.

At regular intervals along the beach are signs reading:




Though hardly separated from the coastline sprawl of Worthing, Fethering believes very strongly in its own identity. People from adjacent areas even as close as Tarring, Ferring or Goring-on-Sea
are reckoned to be, in some imprecise but unarguable way, different.

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