The Hanging in the Hotel

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Suzy Longthorne, formerly a model and now proprietor of the Hopwicke Country House Hotel, is having a hard time making her business a success. She has cut staff to save money and finds herself doing much of the menial work around the hotel. In a pinch for extra hands, she sometimes calls her friend Jude to help.

The Pillars of Sussex, an exclusive men’s club, has been holding meetings at the hotel. With plans for initiation ceremonies on the agenda, the Pillars book the rest of the hotel so everyone can sleep off their drinking. One guest fails to appear to check out the next morning, and Jude, who is helping with room cleaning, goes to investigate and finds him hanging from a rope attached to his bedpost.

The police say it is suicide. A threatening note Jude had seen, warning of harm to come, has now disappeared. Suzy had seen the note but she denies it to police to avoid the notoriety and a fall-off of business. As Jude perceives it, she and her friend Carole, two middle-aged housewives, must take up the investigation of who murdered Nigel Ackford to bring justice to the neighborhood.

Sexual infidelity and liaisons fit into this formulaic British mystery. Throw in a pedophile, a homosexual, a jilted lover, lying lawyers, and an ex-husband, and it proves interesting enough even if not a real page-turner. Author Simon Brett is an award winning past president of Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association.