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Tuesday, 3 November 2020

‘A Cotswold Christmas Mystery’ by Rebecca Tope

Published by Allison & Busby,
22 October 2020.
ISBN 978-0-7490-2632-5

Lovers of the cosy mystery will be delighted to find that A Cotswold Christmas Mystery – book 16 in Rebecca Tope’s Cotswold Mysteries series – fits all the criteria of the genre. No gratuitous bad language, graphic sex or violence but lots of puzzles to solve complete with plenty of red herrings to lead you in the wrong direction. 

This series features Thea who is recently married to Drew Slocombe, a local undertaker she cleared of murder in Book 8 in the series. Thea’s daughter Jessica has joined the Slocombe family for Christmas, but their preparations go awry when he receives news that his estranged father has died and his mother requests that he travel to County Durham to arrange the funeral.

To complicate matters for Thea, her friends and neighbours the Frowse family are having problems with their landlord. Their relationship with Rufus Blackwood has never been easy but his new Russian wife and her daughters are anxious to force the Frowses out of their tithe cottage, an untidy, ramshackle property in the centre of their pristine estate. As part of their campaign of harassment, the Blackwoods erect an electric fence around the cottage not only to prevent the Frowses trespassing on their land but also making access difficult.

A package of expensive jewellery delivered to the estate has gone missing and the Blackwoods accuse Beverly Frowse of stealing it.

Beverly goes missing and her son receives a phone call from his mother telling him she cannot return home in time for Christmas. Thea is determined to help find out what has happened to her.

To complicate matters, a few days later, the dead body of Rufus Blackwood is discovered in the woods alongside the electric fence. It seems the body has lain there for some time, since the day Beverly disappeared.

Fast moving, full of twists and turns to make you want to keep turning the page, fascinating characters (Stephanie, Drew’s thirteen-year-old daughter is a pure delight), with justice for all at the end, what’s not to like?

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.

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