Waste of a Life
by Simon Brett
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Pub Date 06 Dec 2022 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2022
Ellen Curtis is about to have her own life thrown into chaos in this third light-hearted decluttering mystery!
"Brett layers the old-fashioned puzzle with deep psychological insights . . . Not to be missed" Booklist Starred Review
Declutterer Ellen Curtis has been working to bring order into the life of Cedric Waites, a recluse in his eighties who hasn't left his house or let anyone inside it since his wife died. On one of her regular visits, Ellen finds the old man dead.
Sad but, given his age, perhaps not unexpected. Nothing to get worked up about . . . until the police raise the suspicion that Cedric might have been poisoned! The cause seems be something he ate, and as Ellen cleared away the old man's food containers, she is under suspicion. As is Dodge, who works for Ellen and has unhelpfully done a runner . . .
Meanwhile, a rival declutterer is out to sabotage Ellen's reputable business, her two grown-up children are back home and in crisis, and she has a potential love interest. Ellen's life has taken on a chaotic turn of its own! Can she uncover the killer and bring order back to her own life?
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 23 members
Part of the decluttering series, Waste of a Life is book three. I enjoyed it so much, I’ll go back to read one and two.
Ellen declutters homes for a living, which is, as she’ll tell you, completely different from clearing a house. She meets recluse and somewhat hoarder Cedric through social services and in the months she helps him, has come to be quite fond of him. When he’s found dead in the house she along with many others becomes a a suspect.
Filled with wonderful characters, her very annoying mother Fleur, her two unappreciative children, Ben and Jools, and others, make this a fun and satisfying mystery read.
Ellen Curtis is a declutterer and she’s hired to help hoarders who need some help organizing their space. With two elderly clients on her current roster, she’s working to help them clean up and organize their homes. When she finds one of them dead in his home, she believes he died of old age, but the police don’t believe that. What happened to the man and could the police be right?
With her friend and colleague Dodge being the last to see the man alive, he becomes a person of interest. Ellen knows Dodge wouldn’t hurt anyone, so how can she help her friend? She will sleuth while clearing the man’s home out and hope she can figure it out before Dodge is found and charged for something he didn’t do. If Ellen can get that far without finding herself in the killer’s crosshairs.
This was the first book I read in this series and it reads fine as a stand alone. I really liked Ellen’s honesty about being a bitchy woman at times, after all, we can all relate ourselves. Also her caring about people, both her family and her customers, makes her even more endearing and you’re rooting for her to solve the mystery and succeed in all she does. The reference to books in this one is also a great addition as you get into some 20th century quotes and poetry. A brilliant read!
Thank you NetGalley and Severn House for the eARC.
The third of the Decluttering series is another good one. It's become my favorite Simon Brett's series.
Ellen Curtis' company (of one) SpaceWoman is still going strong and this story concerns the death of
Cedric, one of her longtime clients, who she still looks in on.
We're also kept up to date with her son and daughter. I love those parts, her children, especially Ben, have caused her some serious worry and this time her daughter also gives her cause for concern. She hasn't heard from her in quite a while, as her mother, Fleur, loves to rub in.
Her thoughts and musings are delightful, I love reading about her life and look forward to the next in the series. Highly recommended!
Having read some of Simon Brett's other novels featuring Charles Paris and also some of the feathering mysteries I was delighted to find he has started another series about Ellen a declutterer. I found Ellen's insight into her job interesting and the novel flowed easily so I shall certainly look for the two previous novels in the series.
A Suspicious Death…?
The third in The Decluttering Mystery series finds Ellen herself in a state of some disarray as the death of one her own clients turns suspicious. As Ellen delves into the case she needs to juggle her own personal and professional life in the whole chaotic process. With a keenly observed and perfectly credible cast of characters, much musing on the human condition conveyed with empathy and understanding and with a solid mystery at its’ heart this is another worthy and immersive addition to the series. Whilst the Fethering mysteries will always remain my own personal favourite, this new series is proving to be equally compelling and enjoyable.
This is a light-hearted, easy to read, enjoyable read. I have missed the first two books in the series and I am going to read them. I enjoyed the plotting, pacing, and tips.
Excellent third in the series of books from one of the cleverest, easy-on-the-eye mystery writers out there at present. Waste of a Life can be read as a stand-alone novel, but I recommend reading the previous books. It will help play catch-up on Ellen and her previous cases, family history, etc.
The stories have that touch of humour whilst still providing the author's cosy mystery/murder signature.
It was fascinating to get into Ellen's mindset, and it was intriguing getting to know her as the flawed character she was portrayed as. You could not help but take a shine to her despite all her weird traits and bouts of naïvety. You can understand why chaos ensues in her life, even if not all of it is of her own making.
A decent cast of supporting characters assists the main protagonist. Ellen's irritating children are instantly dislikeable, in my view.
The reasonably straightforward story has a few clever twists built into the plot to keep the reader guessing.
Waste of a Life is a fun read that will not tax the brain too much. Excellent characters and a decent storyline. I enjoyed Ellen’s travails and her investigative skills and I would say that Waste of a Life is well worth a read.
Thank you, Severn House and NetGalley, for the opportunity to read the advanced copy of Waste of a Life.
I very much enjoyed Waste Of A Life. This series has a good deal more emotional heft than some of Simon Brett’s other work, which I like very much.
Here, in the third of the series featuring professional declutterer Ellen Curtis, an old and much-liked client dies and the death soon begins to look suspicious. As Ellen and her close friends and family become involved, the only real solution is for them to try to catch the culprit.
Brett, as always, gives us an interesting cast of very well-drawn characters, and Ellen herself is an engaging narrator and protagonist. The publishers’ blurb describes this as “a light-hearted mystery,” which I suppose is true of the mystery itself and, to be honest, I found the plot and its denouement a little thin. However, what does give these books real interest and drive for me is Brett’s treatment of various aspects of trauma and mental health problems in his characters. He is perceptive and humane, and I have become very invested in the regulars here: Ellen herself, her adult daughter and son Julia and Ben, and her friend and colleague, Dodge. This may not be to everyone’s taste; the books have all Brett’s usual readability, but slightly less of the light, humorous tone of many of his books. Personally I like it very much and I’m already looking forward to the next in the series.
(My thanks to Severn House for an ARC via NetGalley.)
Aaah I love decluttering books! This is book 3 and I need to go back and read 1 and 2 but so refreshing to see how many of us have taken a minimalist lifestyle and finally some fiction!!!
I have read all the books in the Decluttering series. For me, with this series, it is best read in order. This will allow the reader to obtain a deeper understanding of the characters growth and an awareness of the characters past situations.
The mystery is a good one. Ellen, who owns WomanSpace , A Decluttering and organization business, finds on a routine visit, one of her clients dead. Of course, Ellen who has grown fond of her client, becomes involved in discovering the murderer.There are many red herrings and it is not till the very end the murderer is discovered.It is done in a Hercules Poirot style.The involved people are gathered together and information comes out and the killer confessed. I enjoyed this style of finding out.
The book is called light-hearted, but not in a similar manner of the author's other series.Much is divulged within the story about Ellen' s children's mental health and her late husbands depression.. It is a diversion from his other series but I have come to care about these characters. It may not be suited to every reader's taste, but I appreciate the authors sensitivity and caring treatment of the characters.
Thanks so much to NetGalley, Severn House and the author for the opportunity to read and review this book. It publishes on 12/16/22
This was such a quick and easy read that I just couldn't put down. I would imagine that having a job decluttering peoples homes would be so satisfying. Great stroyline, well developed characters that all added something to the story. A really enjoyable read.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Severn House Publishers for an advance copy of Waste of a Life, the third novel to feature professional declutterer Ellen Curtis, set in Chichester.
Ellen has been asked to help Cedric Waites organise his life a bit better. Elderly, Cedric hasn’t left his house since his wife died eight years ago, nor let anyone in. Ellen rises to the challenge and has been visiting Cedric regularly until one day she finds him dead. The Police suspect poison, but Ellen has disposed of the evidence and her eccentric friend, Dodge, comes under suspicion.
I thoroughly enjoyed Waste of a Life, which is an entertaining read with plenty going on and several twists. It’s enough to keep any reader occupied. The novel is told from Ellen’s first person point of view and as she can have, when roused, a rather jaundiced view of her fellow humankind she makes the novel fun.
The plot isn’t particularly difficult to work out, but then I don’t think it is intended to be as it is all about the characters and their difficulties and how they react to them. Decluttering almost inevitably implies that the hoarders need help and Ellen is kind and understanding with the clients who need support, be it with loneliness, mental health or dementia. The author never makes fun of these people and treats their issues sensitively enough that it is informative for the reader. It is not just her clients who need support, however, as her adult children are not the strongest mentally and the reader gets the other side of the coin as Ellen wonders if she is doing enough to support them. As it said it is done sensitively but not with a heavy hand so it seems natural.
I really liked some of the twists in the novel. They won’t derail the reader from the conclusions they have drawn, but they are a bit of sharp surprise in what is a cosy novel.
Waste of a Life is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
Know that this is less about who killed Cedric, an elderly man who Ellen has befriended, than it is about mental health issues. Ellen's husband struggled until his death and her children struggle today. She works "decluttering," for hoarders and others- and she does so with considerable sensitivity. Don't get me wrong- this is not a heavy read but rather one that wraps in more serious issues until a novel with both a murder (or two) and a wry sense of humor. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good read.
Waste of a Life by Simon Brett is a highly recommended mystery and the third installment of his entertaining decluttering mystery series.
Ellen Curtis is the owner and sole employee of SpaceWoman, a decluttering company in Chichester, England. She doesn't do major cleaning out of hoarders houses, she helps people overwhelmed with stuff organize what they have. When Social Services asks her to bring order to the home of Cedric Waites, she agrees to work with him. Waites is an elderly recluse who needs to have his home decluttered and repaired in order to live in it. Ellen has to be persistent to finally get Waites to allow her in and eventually start to get the repairs and organization that he needs done. She is shocked and sad to arrive one day and find Waites dead. It is even more shocking when she learns that the police believe he was poisoned.
Along the way Ellen tackles some other interesting cases, does some sleuthing and questioning on her own, and learns of a rivals campaign to smear her. She is also dealing with her two grown children and problematic mother. This is lighthearted entertainment rather than a heart-stopping thriller. The appeal is in Ellen's personable and upbeat narration and descriptions of the people she is working for and events she's experiencing.
As you're reading it may seem that the other decluttering cases are just filler, but they actually provide information pertinent to several mysteries. The pace is quick and Waste of a Life can easily be read in a day. Although this works as a standalone, after reading it I'm definitely interested in reading the first two in the series, The Clutter Corpse and An Untidy Death. Ellen is a great character and this could easily lead to another book in the series.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Severn House via NetGalley.
The review will be published on Barnes & Noble, Google Books, and Amazon.
Waste Of A Life is the third book in the Decluttering Mysteries series by British author, Simon Brett. As is often the case, it has taken some time for decluttering expert Ellen Curtis to win the trust of her new client, Cedric Waites, but once she does, her regular visits to this reclusive widower are helping to make his life safer and more comfortable.
When she finds his body during her regular visit, she’s more sad than shocked: in his seventies, after a long period of poor nutrition and hygiene, it’s no surprise he pulled a dodgy meal out of the freezer.
But then the police tell her that Cedric was poisoned. Intentionally? It seems that, with her routine efficiency at decluttering, she may have inadvertently removed a potentially vital clue. And they want to talk to any tradesmen she brought in. Her reclusive recycling carpenter, Dodge aka Gervaise Palmier, is nowhere to be found.
Ellen busies herself with helping her regular, and some new, clients: a retired English teacher with encroaching dementia whose book hoard is becoming a problem; and a very green couple whose decluttering begins to quickly look like a tit-for-tat exercise.
Distracting her from those are: her usually self-centred mother remarking on the conspicuous lack of communication from her granddaughter, Ellen’s eldest child, Jools; the attentions of a certain Tim Goodrich, the executor of Cedric’s will, which are not unwelcome; and Ellen is also feeling a little guilty that she doesn’t like her son Ben’s new girlfriend more.
On top of all that, it seems that the proprietor of another decluttering company is trying to undermine Space Woman with warnings to prospective customers and nasty website reviews.
While she doesn’t usually do house clearances, she agrees to do Cedric’s house when asked by his son, thinking she might stumble on a clue about his death. It’s immediately apparent that the focus of Cedric’s daughter-in-law is on their likely financial gain. It all gets quite interesting when Ellen discovers Cedric’s valuable collection of first-edition books.
Brett gives the reader another clever plot that includes: one child having a career implosion, the other, a career success; a touch of romance; plenty of emotional baggage unloaded with the aid of copious alcohol consumption; and a nasty scam targeting the demented elderly.
Ellen’s inner monologue always provides plenty of humour, as does any scene that features her mother, Fleur. It does seem that this series is improving with each new book, so it’s to be hoped that Brett has many more of these up his literary sleeve. Very enjoyable cosy crime fiction.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Canongate Books/Severn House
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