1 July 2011
Review: A GRAVE IN THE COTSWOLDS, Rebecca Tope
Source: my local library
As undertaker Drew Slocombe drove to Greta Simmonds' burial in Broad Campden, deep in the heart of the Cotswolds, thoughts of his troubles at home and at work played on his mind. The last thing he was worried about was becoming a murder suspect.
Thea Osborne becomes Drew's unlikely friend and defender as she once again finds herself unwittingly involved in a brutal murder case when the council worker opposing the burial is found dead just minutes from her latest house-sitting assignment: the Cotswold home of the late Mrs. Simmonds. As they come to know more about the inhabitants of Broad Campden, Drew and Thea begin to unearth the secrets, conflicts and tensions that simmer below the surface of village life, together playing amateur detective to find the killer, and to clear Drew's name.
Introducing her sleuths from various series to each other was something that Agatha Christie occasionally did, so perhaps Rebecca Tope's strategy here is not so unusual.
She began documenting Thea Osborne's house sitting ventures with in 2004 and A GRAVE IN THE COTSWOLDS is #8 in the series. (#9 DECEPTION IN THE COTSWOLDS has just been published)
The other series featuring Drew Slocombe who is an undertaker began in 1999 and A GRAVE IN THE COTSWOLDS is #5 in that series. Drew is conducting a service which gives clients cheaper rates and environmentally friendly burials.It is when he buries Greta Simmonds in a plot of land that she doesn't have title to that the problems start.
Will Drew and Thea get on? Fortunately for the author they do. Thea is more or less a free agent while Drew is married with an invalid wife and two young children. A GRAVE IN THE COTSWOLDS is narrated by Drew which in fact allows Thea to act independently and to undertake investigations that she tells Drew about after the event.
For the most part A GRAVE IN THE COTSWOLDS is an entertaining cozy, but I thought the final resolution was a bit too sloppy. The identity of the murderer, when it was revealed, surprised me as much as it did the other characters, so perhaps there were just not enough clues. There is also an "off-canvas" character whose influence over the culprit was an unknown.
My rating: 4.3
Rebecca Tope's website (in serious need of updating)