Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Herring Seller's Apprentice” as Want to Read:
The Herring Seller's Apprentice
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Herring Seller's Apprentice (Elsie and Ethelred Mystery #1)

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  374 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
Ethelred Tressider is a crime writer with problems. His latest novel is going nowhere, mid-life crisis is looming and he's burdened by the literary agent he probably deserves: Elsie Thirkettle, a diminutive but determined individual who claims to enjoy neither the company of writers nor literature of any sort. But however bad things look they can always get worse, as Ethel ...more
Hardcover, 233 pages
Published October 5th 2007 by Macmillan (first published 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Herring Seller's Apprentice, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Herring Seller's Apprentice

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 14, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
Ethelred Tressider writes moderately successful mysteries--selling red herrings, as it were. His agent Elsie--a short, fat woman who dresses like a tall, slender one--knows authors are idiots, but still has a well-concealed soft spot for Tressider. When his faithless ex-wife disappears, Elsie is ready to help him look for the culprit. Someone must have killed Geraldine, she reasons--she had so many enemies. Elsie knows Tressider is hiding something from her, but she's also sure that he is not a ...more
I was looking for a quirky, amusing mystery with heart and brains to start the summer off on the right foot, and this booklet delivered the goods. The title is, frankly, out of the bizarro ballpark, but it actually fits into the story.
Suspicious, cute, suspicions, enough to hold my MTV-generation attention span. And while it is quote " funny " unquote, it isn't down on the ground slapping the floor, or even rocking on my chair slapping my knee, funny. It's just plain amusing, or amusant as the F
Mar 21, 2010 Pamsholley rated it liked it
A nominee for the Edgar [2010:], very dry, witty British author. When his ex-wife Geraldine turns up missing, and then dead, novelist Ethelred Tressider is called to identify [mis-identify?:] her and then proceeds to conduct a search for her assailant. Aided [un-aided?:] by his agent, Elsie Thirkettle who loves chocolate and wears her clothes too tight, he has no luck, but then the chief suspect dies in a car crash and Ethelred skitters out of the country...ostensibly to meet Geraldine, but the ...more
Jun 09, 2011 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was enchanted in the beginning but things twisted a little bit too oddly for me in the stretch. Yes, I did kind of figure out what happened early on but the addition of the 'Fairfax' writing and discussion on Ethelred's father didn't meld in with the story very well - I think sticking to Elthred and Elsie's takes on things (but in separate chapters) would work far, far better. The ending was just not right.
May 16, 2011 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This delightful mystery is both an homage to and a spoof of Agatha Christie - and a treasure all its own.

Ethelred Tressider is a mediocre mystery writer, or "herring-seller" (as in red herrings). Actually, under various names, he's two mystery writers and a romance writer, all of them unable to write about sex and all of them mediocre. Elsie Thirkettle is his agent, who loves chocolate and disdains writers in about equal measure. When a lovely body turns up in Ethelred's rather out of the way pa
Amy Corwin
Aug 02, 2011 Amy Corwin rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The Herring Seller's Apprentice is a terrific mystery which, at least at the beginning, made me laugh out loud several times. My husband thought I was losing it when I was reading it. I'm only about 50% done at the moment, and it's gone from laugh-out-loud to smiling with a bit of a twitch as things are getting rather tense.

It's told in first person, from the perspective of a writer who has three author personas, including a mystery writer and a romance writer. His agent dubs him the "herring se
Aug 10, 2011 Bev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, humor, mcpl-book
This is so funny. I loved it. A couple of favorite quotes (both from page one and I just kept loving snippets):

"Just when you think you have committed the perfect crime, things most unfairly take a turn for the worse."

"I had picked up the receiver quickly and listened for a few moments to a familiar voice trying to do irony at one o’clock in the morning—something that is as difficult as it is pointless."
Rob Kitchin
Aug 09, 2012 Rob Kitchin rated it it was ok
The Herring Seller’Apprentice is a lightly satirical turn on cosy crime fiction. Although competently written, it did little for me. I suspect that this is partly a matter of taste. Cosies are not my crime fiction of choice. I am a great fan, however, of fiction that tries to play with and subvert the genre such as that by Malcolm Pryce, Jasper Fforde and Donna Moore. But even on this level, the book felt a little flat and insubstantial. The whole thing felt too contrived and knowing. The result ...more
Khairul H.
Aug 24, 2012 Khairul H. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Dark, witty humour. Ethelred Tressider is an author who writes under three different pseudonyms but receives no respect from no one, not even from his agent. In fact, not even from himself. The mystery of his murdered ex-wife uses points of view to cloak itself in but it's not too hard to figure out if the reader paid attention. The ending however was a surprise and not necessarily a pleasant one, depending on one's point of view.

Ingrid Fasquelle
Etrange suicide dans une Fiat rouge à faible kilométrage est une bonne surprise, une friandise rafraîchissante à l'humour british décalé, qui revisite les codes du polar classique et laisse le lecteur sous le charme d'une enquête menée tambour battant !

Avec la légèreté et la spontanéité qu'apporte une narration à deux voix, L.C. Tyler signe une intrigue passionnante et bien ficelée, qui happe facilement le lecteur. Mais surtout, il offre la fantaisie d'un duo plus qu'improbable, qui relève davan
Feb 10, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy Bennett
Apr 25, 2013 Nancy Bennett rated it it was ok
I really thought I would like this book: cozy mystery, literary agent addicted to chocolate, set in picturesque England -- what's not to love? I found Elsie to be pushy -- yet a little endearing in her tenderness towards Ethelred -- and I was really disappointed in how Ethelred turned out in the end. A little vague I know, but I don't want to give anything away.

Disappointed in the book and won't be reading the others in the series.
Nov 24, 2013 Emjy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Une réjouissante comédie policière.
Jun 16, 2014 Joeydag rated it liked it
I find I enjoy stories about writers. This is a murder mystery told by two narrators, a third rate mystery/romance writer and his literary agent. The agent is abusive and dismissive of the writer and the writer has a bit of sardonic self knowledge. The novel opens as the writer returns to his home in England after a short vacation in France to find that is wife is missing and presumed dead. This is a quite clever and filled with black humor.

I believe this is the first of a series and I had alrea
Gabi Coatsworth
Dec 18, 2014 Gabi Coatsworth rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, crime
Thoroughly enjoyed this very funny murder mystery. The two main characters made me laugh out loud, and the author captures their voices perfectly. As the author says: There's an important difference between fiction and real life. Fiction has to be believable. Not sure the plot was entirely believable, but the characters certainly were, and I didn't care anyway, because I was having too much fun.
Jun 02, 2015 Jazz rated it really liked it
"Just when you think you have committed the perfect crime, things most unfairly take a turn for the worse."

Very amusing mystery, sort of a black cozy, concerning a mystery writer, Ethelred Tressider and his agent, Elsie Thirkettle. He is the herring-seller (selling the genre's red herrings) and she is his apprentice. It seems like it might have been written as a stand-alone until Elsie convinced real author L.C. Tyler to make this a series. I'm glad there are more books ahead to enjoy.
Puzzle Doctor
Jun 08, 2015 Puzzle Doctor rated it it was amazing
Slightly baffled at some of the sniffy reviews. This is a very clever subversion of the traditional mystery while still playing fair. Full review at
Oct 06, 2015 Tricia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Overall this wasn't my cup of tea - I didn't enjoy the writing style or the relationships between characters. All the self-referential bits were annoying as well (and if you read the author's bio, there's another layer of it!) However, I did appreciate the ending. Also, I suspected Mary Jones was involved somehow but was quite wrong as to how.

(2.5 stars)

"Geraldine...had a nickname for you."
"I know," I said. 'The Herring Seller. It was a facetious reference to the red herrings that she considere
Renita D'Silva
Sep 30, 2015 Renita D'Silva rated it liked it
Light-hearted, funny. Loved.
Mary Lautner
Oct 16, 2015 Mary Lautner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful read. Ethelred Tressider is a writer. His agent is Elsie Thirkettle.
Fun quotes:
"That's what I love about the country. Hello, I see you're a total stranger; why don't you come in? You've got at least an hour to clean the place out, if you need that long. Dearie."
"It's amazing how many crap decisions you can make in a single evening if you put your mind to it."
A brilliant read! Ethelred and Elsie, two unlikely friends, were brilliant characters! They worked well together, despite their differences. They interacted with each other well. The story line was good, though not great, however, bypassing some cliches - deliberate, I think - the telling of the story was really interesting. In a true crime style, it did keep you guessing and wondering until the very end. I wasn't fond of the ending. But everything else was fab!
Jan 09, 2016 Yoy rated it really liked it
"There is an important difference between fiction and real life. Fiction has to be believable. "

L. C. Tyler seems to be born to tell stories.
Here, he writes a book full of wonderful English humor, creates mystery and suspens with lots of imagination, and of course he does not tell us evertything. The style is beautiful, even lets us enjoy beautiful landscapes. Almost all of these descriptions of landscapes are situated in English pastures or fields, where it is always raining. This adds humor
Maria Thermann
Jan 17, 2016 Maria Thermann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
L C Tyler's hugely enjoyable murder mystery revolves around another crime writer and his obnoxious, rude and chocolate-addicted literary agent. Middle-aged and disillusioned writer Ethelred Tressider makes a moderate living by writing under three different pen names. Nothing much has happened in his life since his divorce from enigmatic and entirely untrustworthy, unfaithful Geraldine. When his ex-wife's rental car is found on the beach near Ethelred's home with a suicide note torn from his own ...more
Alexandra Roach
Mar 01, 2016 Alexandra Roach rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
LC Tyler casts a wry eye over the process of writing detective fiction while providing a most readable murder mystery and a couple of delightfully loopy main protagonists in Ethelred, a hack author of detective fiction (and Mills and Boon style hospital romances) and his agent, Elsie. Murder shouldn't be so much fun. And yes I got the in joke. Will definitely try the sequels.
Mar 22, 2016 Stephanie rated it really liked it
I chose The Herring Seller's Apprentice by L C Tyler from a limited English language selection when swapping books at Camping Casteillets, Ceret, France, so was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed the read. Cosy mystery stories aren't my usual fare, but my eye was caught by the great title.

The herring seller in question is the wonderfully named Ethelred Hengist Tressider, general hack writer by trade whose most popular book series is crime fiction, hence the fish moniker - he sells
Sara Eames
May 14, 2016 Sara Eames rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. The characters were well-written and the plot flowed along nicely. It was an interesting read. However, there was a small issue for me personally as I got the order of the books wrong initially. This is the 2nd Ethelred and Elsie story that I have read - I made the error of reading the 2nd one 1st - but this at least gave me context. That being said, because I had read "Ten Little Herrings" earlier this year, I was aware of the twist that the story was building up to. Fortun ...more
May 08, 2016 Stephen rated it liked it
easing going read with a mixture of wodehouse and christie in the style of writing
Vlady Peters
Jul 08, 2016 Vlady Peters rated it it was amazing
On seeing the title I was surprised that my husband actually picked this book. Since when had he started reading about herrings, sardines, or tuna? Once I looked at the cover properly and found no sign of piers, nets, or trawlers, I realised that the book was not about fish.

In fact, this mystery writer was writing about a mystery-writing author and the herrings in the title were those misleading clues with which mystery writers tend to sprinkle their works.

Apart from the expected murder, there w
Verity W
This is fun and enjoyable and has a few twists going on. It was recommended to be by a twitter book reader (can't remember who, sorry) as being perfect to cheer me up in the dark gloom of news at the moment - and it was the perfect book for nightshift reading.

It centres around a moderate successful writer - with three pen names - whose wife turns up dead and his efforts - and that of his agent - to figure out who did it. Or at least that's what his agent thinks he's doing...
Clare Cheetham
Sep 18, 2016 Clare Cheetham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came across this book unexpectedly and was pleasantly surprised at how much chuckling time it provided me with. It is fun, witty and a good read - especially for Wodehouse and Christie fans who are happy to enjoy a little pastiche (that may or may not be the right word). The characters and storyline are pretty unbelievable, apart from the Ethelred character. I suspect he enjoyed writing this!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Corpse In A Gilded Cage
  • Murder At Madingley Grange
  • On the Many Deaths of Amanda Palmer: And the Many Crimes of Tobias James
  • A Load Of Old Bones
  • The Cold Light of Mourning (A Penny Brannigan Mystery #1)
  • Death on Tour (Jocelyn Shore, #1)
  • No Shitting In The Toilet
  • Rock Bottom
  • Blotto, Twinks, and the Ex-King's Daughter (Blotto and Twinks, #1)
  • The Library Paradox (Vanessa Duncan)
  • Portrait of a Lady (Leonardo da Vinci Mystery, #2)
  • The Penguin Pool Murder (Hildegarde Withers #1)
  • The Portrait of Doreene Gray
  • The Collected John Carter of Mars (Barsoom, #8-11)
  • How it Works: The Wife
  • Fallen
  • Bonnie of Evidence (Passport to Peril, #8)
  • A Spark of Death
L. C. Tyler grew up in Essex and studied geography at Jesus College Oxford University and systems analysis at City University in London. During a career with the British Council he lived in Malaysia, Sudan, Thailand and Denmark. More recently he has been based in Islington and West Sussex and is Chief Executive of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. He is married and has two childre ...more
More about L.C. Tyler...

Other Books in the Series

Elsie and Ethelred Mystery (6 books)
  • Ten Little Herrings
  • The Herring in the Library
  • Herring on the Nile
  • Crooked Herring
  • Cat Among The Herrings (Elsie and Ethelred, #6)

Share This Book