Fete Accompli

Jessie: In New Hampshire, plucking away at the seventh Beryl and Edwina novel.

I am delighted to report that the annual assault by blackflies is at an end in my corner of the globe. An army of dragonflies has once again arrived and thoroughly vanquished the little beasts. This happy turn of events has made it possible for me to spend many happy hours in the garden with my dog, Sam, or with friends and family.

My sleuth, Edwina Davenport, loves her gardens as much as I do, and when I write scenes that place her in the midst of her plants I am put in mind of one of my favorite traditional mystery stalwarts, the village fete. This quintessentially English event is most often set on the lavish grounds of a local stately home. Complete with coconut shys, white elephant stalls, and tombolas, the fete is always held for a worthwhile cause, more often than not the church roof fund.

Everyone knows there is no real hope that sufficient funds will be raised no matter how many raffle tickets or home-baked goods are sold, but it matters not a whit. The revelers are actually there for the far more important tasks of discovering who has won the flower arranging competition or to off-load a murder weapon in the anonymity of the jumble table. More often than not, someone will be murdered in a quaint and clever way, one that frequently does not appear to be anything other than a tragic accident at first glance.

Considering that the village fete has made appearances in so many mysteries over the decades it was inevitable that I would turn my hand to one of my own a few years ago with Murder Flies the Coop. And even though I have already scratched that particular itch, every time I am out in my own garden I find myself wondering how I might justify doing it again before long. After all, the church roof must still be in dire need of repair!

Readers, which traditional mystery scenarios are amongst your favorites? Writers, have you ever used a similar situation more than once in your own work simply because you love it so much?

22 Thoughts

  1. I like the traditional holiday parties and parades or a yearly town event as we know something unusual happens each year. Places that are celebrating the towns years of incorporation with costumes and reenactments. It’s all good fun until there is a mystery to be solved.

  2. I agree, Jessie, a village event is a great venue for murder! Knitting seems to have been involved in more than one murder in my Country Store series. I must cure myself of the habit.

  3. I always look forward to fete scenes in books and television – who else remembers the fabulous fete in the early Midsomer Murders.

    I’ve not used a fete, but I have used garden tours and parades as murder covers. Such fun and so much opportunity.

  4. Any sort of party/parade/festival is fair game. You know there will be something afoot. I don’t know that I’ve used something in any of my books yet.

    Jessie, I think you could get away with another fete. As you said, the church roof is always in need of repair.

  5. Aren’t dragonflies the best!! I agree, any kind of town gathering is fair game for trouble!

  6. Love the church photo1 If the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries had continued I might have revisited New England’s Largest Garage Sale–an event that Sarah cooked up to bring more tourists to town.

  7. I love English fetes stories in any medium. The second book in my Maine Clambake Mystery series centers around Founder’s Day in my fictional Busman’s Harbor. It forced me to discover through the writing who the founder(s) was and how the town got its name.

  8. While there are many I enjoy, I enjoy it more when authors take a familiar element and put their own unique spin on it, so it is familiar yet new.

  9. My very favorite ploy in a mystery is when the hero or heroine has to move home for some reason and old flames are reignited. Then the two have to team up to solve the mystery.

  10. I love the English fetes and any small town festivals. It’s so easy to be there with the rest of the characters. 😁

  11. I do not have a favorite. I enjoy the variety. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you.

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