7 May 2022


  • this edition available on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09F5N8FR8
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Avon (March 17, 2022)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 331 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 0008530084

Synopsis (Amazon)

Introducing the three unlikeliest sleuths you'll ever meet…

Every Thursday, three retired school teachers have their ‘coffee o’clock’ sessions at the Thirsk Garden Centre café.

But one fateful week, as they are catching up with a slice of cake, they bump into their ex-colleague, Topsy.

By the next Thursday, Topsy’s dead.
The last thing Liz, Thelma and Pat imagined was that they would become involved in a murder.
But they know there’s more to Topsy’s death than meets the eye – and it’s down to them to prove it…

Sit down with a cup of tea and this perfectly witty, page-turning cosy crime novel. Fans of Agatha Christie, Death in Paradise and Midsomer Murders will be hooked from the very first page.

My Take

The "chooser" in our monthly book group has set a challenge. We are reading 3 cozies that all share the same title. So here is the first, and the other two will shortly follow.

Thelma, Pat and Liz have all retired after successful careers in primary school classrooms at the St. Barnabus' Primary school. Their coffee session on a Thursday at the Thirsk Garden Centre Cafe is an extension of the sharing that they used to do when they were working. They have all maintained "outside" interests at charity shops, Keep Fit, and book groups. At coffee o'clock on Thursdays they catch up with their various news: what their families are doing. 

On this particular Thursday who should walk in but another ex-colleague whom they haven't seen for a while: Topsy Joy. She is on the arm of her daughter Kelly-Anne whom the group all remember. But they are taken aback at the change in Topsy: "stooped, bewildered, slightly shaking...wondering where she was". Kelly-Anne spots the little group and brings her mother over to sit with them. 18 months before Topsy's husband Gordon had died unexpectedly, and it is obvious to the group that Topsy has "gone downhill" since then. 

In the following minutes it is obvious to the group that Topsy has dementia and that Kelly-Anne is "doing it tough". Topsy refers to her husband in the present tense, as if he is not dead. 

I enjoyed the way the book went on to explore what was happening in each of the lives of the main characters, and then to reveal what happens to Topsy. Each of the three sleuths feels that what has happened to Topsy is "not right", but is unsure what to do about it. They feel their way to working it out.

Very readable.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

J.M. Hall is an author, playwright and deputy head of a primary school. His plays have been produced in theatres across the UK as well as for radio, the most recent being Trust, starring Julie Hesmondhalgh on BBC Radio 4. His first novel, A Spoonful of Murder, is about retired primary school teachers who turn to sleuthing 

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