6 January 2011

Review: COTSWOLD KILLING, Rebecca Tope

Published Allison & Busby 2004
ISBN 0-74900-664-1
281 pages
Source: Local Library
#1 in Thea Osborne series

Publisher's blurb
Nestled in the fertile hills of the Cotswolds, the village of Duntisbourne Abbots is a well-kept secret: beautiful, timeless and quintessentially English. When Joel Jennison is found slaughtered in the same field where his brother's corpse had lain ten weeks previously, a whole community falls under suspicion. Was it a family feud? An act of revenge? Could Thea's employers, now relaxing in the Bahamas, have anything to do with the murder? In calling on her neighbours to get some answers, Thea uncovers more tragedy and intrigue than she thought possible behind the chocolate- box facade of a peaceful Gloucestershire village. As a forty-something woman with no previous experience of detective work, she knows she shouldn't be getting involved. But as her new friend Harry points out sometimes a fresh eye can see through the superficial tangles to where the truth lies.

My take:

At times this book felt hard going and I sometimes became annoyed what seemed to be a welter of detail that slowed the action down.

Thea Osborne uses her husband's death as an excuse to embark on a new occupation of house-sitting. The three week job in a house in the village of Duntisbourne Abbot is her first, and it quickly becomes obvious that it is not going to be as simple as she imagines. Her employers have a detailed and comprehensive list of tasks. But not on the list is the murder of one of the locals in her back garden. And of course Thea is carrying her own share of emotional baggage.
As time goes on a suspicion grows that her police detective brother in law has somehow contrived that she got the job in the first place.

A COTSWOLD KILLING seemed to have an unnecessarily complicated plot. There are a lot of characters to sort out and a complex web of relationships to fathom. Some of the characters we meet only fleetingly, and can't be sure whether we need to remember them. Thea Osborne is an interesting character but her involvement in undertaking an investigation into her neighbours is not entirely logical. There were events such as the traffic accident which results in Thea's car being written off which raised the level of plot complexity with not much useful outcome. There were times too when the reader did not know what Thea had discovered - for example she researches local news items, sends an email off to her brother in law but doesn't tell us until pages later what it was she found.

All in all though, it is not a badly written novel. Nothing that perhaps a bit of judicious editing might not have cured.

My rating: 4.4

I kept reminding myself this is the first novel in a series, although not a debut novel, and I have since found that there are now 8 published titles in the series, and a 9th due in 2011. #8 in particular looks interesting where Thea Osoborne meets up with Drew Slocombe, the protagonist in Tope's other series. I suspect I will read another.

I will be using this book for
Cruisin' thru Cosies Reading Challenge
British Books Challenge

3 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review. I have to admit, I'm not so much of a fan of a whole host of characters and details, either, unless each one adds to the story. I can understand why you found that aspect of this annoying. Still, I'm that, overall, you found it a decent read.

Nan said...

I think I liked it a bit better than you did, Kerrie, but I sure do understand and appreciate your concerns. I wrote about it briefly here:

http://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2010/12/three-very-good-mysteries.html

I want to try the second and see what I think. That will probably decide whether I continue or quit.

Dorte H said...

I have read two Thea Osborne stories and enjoyed them quite a bit. I think this one is on my TBR - but then I don´t necessarily mind details.

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