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Friday 7 June 2019

‘Crisis in the Cotswolds’ by Rebecca Tope

Published by Allison & Busby,
19 July 2018.
ISBN 970-0-7490-2337-9

Though a sleepy Cotswold village might be a familiar setting for a cosy crime novel, the occupation of the protagonist Thea Osborne is not. Her husband Drew is an undertaker who runs a natural burial service.

The couple find themselves caught in the middle of a family feud when a new client insists that any requests for details of the interment ceremony from the family of her deceased husband’s first wife’s family are refused. Against his better judgement, Drew agrees. He cannot afford to turn down work. Inevitably, family No 1 turns up and decide to set up camp by the burial field and stay until the funeral takes place. It doesn’t help that Thea finds one of the sons particularly attractive.

Life gets even more fraught when the body of a young woman is found in the burial grounds. Who would want to murder Juliet? Everyone appeared to like the young woman with learning difficulties always ready to help everyone. Thea is drawn into investigation encouraged by the detective in charge of the case.

Still adjusting to her newly married status including coping with her two young step-children doesn’t come easily to Thea. She misses the adventures she experienced in her old life as a house-sitter. As if all this was not enough to have to deal with, the manager of Drew’s other natural burial in Somerset decides to retire leaving him uncertain what to do about the future. The prospect of leaving her beloved Cotswolds and moving to Somerset fills Thea with dread, but feels she must not influence Drew’s decision.

Crisis in the Cotswold
is the sixteenth novel in this series though I must confess this is the first that I have read. I enjoyed the setting and learning about natural burials. The complex plot strands eventually pull together and keep the reader turning the page. What I found the most impressive feature of the writer’s skills was the characterisation. Despite a relatively large cast, each character was fully rounded and convincing to the point that there was no confusion as to who was who as happens so often in many of the novels I’ve read recently. (I do hate having to flick back through the pages to work out minor characters!) Thea is a feisty, resourceful woman who, despite her admirable qualities, is far from perfect which makes her all the more believable.
Reviewer: Judith Cranswick  

Rebecca Tope is the author of four popular murder mystery series, featuring Den Cooper, Devon police detective, Drew Slocombe, Undertaker, Thea Osborne, house sitter in the Cotswolds, and more recently Persimmon (Simmy) Brown, a florist. Rebecca grew up on farms, first in Cheshire then in Devon, and now lives in rural Herefordshire on a smallholding situated close to the beautiful Black Mountains. Besides "ghost writer" of the novels based on the ITV series Rosemary and Thyme. Rebecca is also the proprietor of a small press - Praxis Books. This was established in 1992.

Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to work teaching Geography in a large comprehensive. It was only after leaving her headship that she was able to take up writing again in earnest. Judith teaches Tai Chi, and line dancing, yoga, Pilates and Zumba. Her other hobbies include reading and travelling. She is lucky enough to be a cruise lecturer. You can read some of her adventures – the Ups and Downs of Being a Cruise Lecturer on her September 2014 blog on her home page. Judith’s latest book is Blood Flows South to read a review click on the title

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