8 January 2024

Review: THE TEA LADIES, Angela Hampson

Synopsis (publisher

A wickedly witty cosy crime novel set in Sydney in the swinging sixties, ideal for fans of Richard Osman and Bonnie Garmus.

They keep everyone's secrets, until there's a murder...

Sydney, 1965: After a chance encounter with a stranger, tea ladies Hazel, Betty and Irene become accidental sleuths, stumbling into a world of ruthless crooks and racketeers in search of a young woman believed to be in danger.

In the meantime, Hazel’s job at Empire Fashionwear is in jeopardy. The firm has turned out the same frocks and blouses for the past twenty years and when the mini-skirt bursts onto the scene, it rocks the rag trade to its foundations. War breaks out between departments and it falls to Hazel, the quiet diplomat, to broker peace and save the firm.

When there is a murder in the building, the tea ladies draw on their wider network and put themselves in danger as they piece together clues that connect the murder to a nearby arson and a kidnapping. But if there’s one thing tea ladies can handle, it’s hot water.

My Take

Angela Hampson is obviously an accomplished writer but this is my first outing with her. It takes us back into the 1960s in Sydney with a bunch of observant tea ladies who become accidental detectives. 

The glue who holds together a group of tea ladies who work in adjacent buildings is Hazel Bates. Hazel also provides an observant link between all levels of workers and management in Empire Fashionwear. It is Hazel who first notices "the woman at the window" in the bond store next door. It is Hazel who reports her observations to the police and raises the alarm when the bond store is torched.

Hazel is the ring leader of a group of tea ladies who work for neighbouring firms, and organises meetings where they compare notes on their observations.

There are lovely character sketches of each of the tea ladies, and touches of humour too. A satisfying read. I can see myself looking for more by this author..

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Amanda Hampson grew up in rural New Zealand. She has lived in London and Sydney, and now lives in Melbourne. Writing professionally for more than 20 years, she is the author of The Olive Sisters, Two for the Road, The French Perfumer, The Yellow Villa, Sixty Summers, Lovebirds, and the bestselling cosy crime novel The Tea Ladies. Her forthcoming novel is The Cryptic Clue.

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