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Sunday, 3 July 2011

‘Deception in the Cotswolds’ by Rebecca Tope

Published by Allison and Busby, April 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-7499-0975-5

Residing in the grandeur of Hollywell Manor in the village of Cranham is home for house-sitter Thea Osborne and her spanial Hepzibah for the next two weeks.  Her tasks are not arduous, all the owner, Harriet Young, asks is that Thea keep a watchful on her geckoes, housed in the cellar.  Oh! and to welcome seventy-year-old Donny Davis who lives in the former lodge for a daily cup of coffee and a chat.  For once June looks to be dry and sunny, and Thea is all set for an enjoyable time.

When next day Donny walks up from the lodge for his coffee, she is delighted to find that he is an interesting man, clearly not well, but a good conversationalist and Thea, as she readily admits, is a nosy parker.  Donny tells her that he is looked after by his daughter Jemima, who comes in daily.  He has a lady friend Edwina Satterthwaite, but she is away visiting relatives at the moment.  Donny’s wife Janet, she learns is in a nursing home, visited only, she later learns, by his late daughter Cecilia’s husband Toby, which she finds a little strange. 

But as in all classic English villages unexpected death lurks, and Cranham is no exception.  Unfortunately, Thea’s reputation for being involved in murderous incidents has spread, and soon she in drawn into the darker side of Cranham.

The strength of this book lies in the fascinating characters, and the wonderful descriptions of the Cotswold countryside as Thea takes Hepzie for her daily walks. As in A Grave in the Cotswolds, Undertaker Drew Slocombe makes an appearance, as he is still pursuing a possible burial ground in Broad Camden, but as he tells Thea, his partner Maggs is against it, and  his wife Karen cannot handle any major decisions since her injury which has so changed her personality.  

This is an interesting book dealing with the pros and cons of a topical dilemma, and whilst the mystery is resolved, the ending leaves this reader hungry for the next instalment in this acclaimed series.
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Lizzie Hayes

Rebecca Tope is the author of three populr murder mystery series, featuring Den Cooper, Devon police detective, Drew Dlocombe, Undertaker, and Thea Osborne, house Sitter in teh Cotswolds.  Also 'ghost writer' of the novels based on the ITV series Rosemary and Thyme.
Rebecca is also the proprietor of a smalll press - Praxis book. This was established in 1992.

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