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

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  268 ratings  ·  67 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 Ethelr
Paperback, 234 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Pan Publishing (first published 2007)
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Amy Corwin
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
Rob Kitchin
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
Renita D'Silva
Light-hearted, funny. Loved.
Nancy Bennett
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.
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."
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
Gabi Coatsworth
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.
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
Une réjouissante comédie policière.
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
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
"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.
Mary Lautner
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."
This murder mystery started out all wry and brisk, a breath of fresh air after the latest bloated Jack Reacher book. But it slowed and got more serious in the middle. In the end it was an ingenious tale, using the "two narrators" technique that has gotten so much attention via Gone Girl. Mixed feelings, but I wouldn't be averse to trying another.
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
Very funny. It lightly pokes fun at the cozy mystery genre. The ending was a bit of a downer, but then I see there are more in the series, which was confusing. I will look for more from this author.
Puzzle Doctor
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
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
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
Amusing and well-written, with red-herrings (in the book a mystery writer is referred to as a herring seller) throughout.
This was a fun, fluffy, quick read mystery. I liked the characters, the pace was good and the mystery solvable. I especially liked the way the main character, a mystery writer, used the notion of writing a mystery to move the plot forward and lay bare some clues.
Light read, funny in parts, not too cloying. Not high literature but sometimes you need these easier quick reads.
Cute. If you need a break from Serious Crime Drama, this'll work.
Selmah Smith
Fun and witty. Look forward to reading the next in the series.
un petit polar distrayany
Flora Paoli
Un petit polar sympathoche à l'humour "so british". A recommander pour un moment de lecture agréable et divertissant.
Andrew Hixson
Original and different take on the mystery genre
Khairul H.
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.

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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 (5 books)
  • Ten Little Herrings
  • The Herring in the Library
  • Herring on the Nile
  • Crooked Herring

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