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Friday 25 August 2023

‘A Discovery in the Cotswolds’ by Rebecca Tope

Published by Allison & Busby,
24 August 2023.
ISBN: 978-0-7490-3037-7 (HB)

Thea Osborne, ex-house sitter, is now married to undertaker Drew Slocombe inheriting two stepchildren, Timmy and Stephanie. Over Sunday lunch Thea remarks that it seems unusually quiet. Stepanie says  there is only one funeral this week’. Thea cast her mind back to how long it had been since she had taken an interest in her husband’s business. Drew explains that his ‘green’ approach to undertaking has now been overtaken by new ideas and while he was ground-breaking in the undertaking business 10 years ago the world has now changed. Thea muses that she has probably put up a very poor showing as an undertaker’s wife distancing herself from the details of the undertaking business. Thea decides she needs another house-sitting job. Drew is not that keen as he says ‘it takes you away from the bosom of your family. Stephanie doesn’t like it and the dog’s a complication’.

Reading online about some church paintings in a church in Baunton, Thea decides to visit the next day and takes Stephanie with her. There she meets up with Emmy, someone she had met on a previous house-sitting job, Emmy is now married to a local farmer Nick Weaver. They ask Thea to find their missing niece Ginny, who disappeared over a week ago.

Thea naturally agrees to help and armed with a photo of Ginny she sets off to survey the surrounding land. Although she doesn’t find Ginny, she does find the body of Alice, a woman she and Stephanie had encountered the day before when visiting the church in Baunton.

The murder investigation brings the police, and Detective Superintendent Sonia Gladwin, whom Thea has come to regard as a friend over the years that Thea has come across dead bodies in the Cotswolds villages where she had undertaken house-sitting.

But still there is no sign of the missing Ginny. During further talks with Emmy and Nick things are mentioned which neither of them seem to want to elaborate on. Nick does mention that something is missing and then clams up. Are they more interested in their missing item than the safety of Ginny.  What did she take demanded Thea?  Then Nick blurts out that his mother is in a coma following a car accident. Thea splutters, how many more secrets are there around here? 

Is the murder of Alice and the missing girl Ginny linked?

And will Drew’s business survive?  Will Thea come up with a super scheme to revitalise the undertaking business? Or will it die a sad death?

A good village mystery, that kept me guessing to the end, and one which I heartily recommend,
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

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.

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