Ellen Curtis is a middle-aged, widowed businesswoman, Mum and carer to her adult son. After the tragic suicide of her husband – a successful syndicated comic strip artist – Ellen has to quickly find a means of financial support, flexible hours as a carer, as well give her son work when able. Ellen is an amazingly caring and empathetic but she’s also learned to be a very shrewd business person after a lifetime of managing her husband’s career and family finances. Not surprising Ellen comes-up with a brilliant concept for a small business that sees her employed by the wealthy as well council and welfare agencies to meet the ever-growing social welfare problem of hording. Through a lifetime of supporting her late husband then her son’s mental ill-health Ellen sees this growing problem for what it really is – a symptom of a damaged lives lacking appropriate support and treats the problem by both supporting her clients like a new caring friend while helping de-cluttering their homes and lives.
Ellen’s business is booming and she feels like she’s really making a difference. Ellen also believes she’s seen it all, until de-cluttering the council flat of an elderly lady – Mum of soon to be released “life-er”, prisoner Nate Ogden – she finds the mummified corpse of young girl amongst the over-stuffed room no one has entered for decades. Nate Ogden would never admit guilt for the death of this missing girl – that’s why he got a life sentence – but the discovery of her body now threatens his impending release. The Police feel vindicated and assured they gaoled the right man. Case closed.
At first Ellen agrees Nate must have been guilty, but the pieces of this puzzle just don’t quite fit. Ellen decides to direct all her shrewdness to uncovering the truth only to discover close personal links and shocking revelations.
The Clutter Corpse was a light but unique, cleverly crafted mystery as well a real treat to listen to. We heard Simon Brett’s words come to life both as writer and narrator and even with his unusual female voice for Ellen the mystery was intriguing and convincing. This is a major advantage of reading audio recorded books as the reader gains an added dimension of the book. It was also very pleasing to see an author incorporating elements of contemporary, real-life social welfare problems such as hording and mental ill-health into their storyline.
5 stars out of 5.
Reviewed by Corinne Hughes – Kyogle Branch Librarian