Set in the charming village of Thirsk, Yorkshire , when three retired primary school teachers, (Thelma, Pat and Liz), are faced with the suspicious death of a friend, Topsy, they reluctantly take up the task of uncovering the “ordinary evil” lurking beneath the unassuming facade of their quiet and comfortable neighborhood.
Written by a first-time (and ex-teacher) author, the friendship of the three main protagonists, built upon a shared history of tea, support and companionship nurtured on the worn chairs of their former staff room, is steeped with authenticity. How the male author manages to also nail the middle-aged female psyche is truly a marvel, with each of the three characters so well-crafted you would swear you have met them.
Thelma, the unofficial leader, outwardly strong and practical, can always “find the exact words the other two are fumbling for”. Childless, and married to a college professor, Teddy, Thelma fills her days with charity work – hiding a heartbreaking secret and a inner core as vulnerable and uncertain as her more emotive friends.
Pat, bright and attractive, the wife of Rod, (a builder), worries about her youngest, teenage son, Liam, the bodily trials of aging, and a generation raised in a world where the internet in all its trappings can clearly be seen to “sap the soul”.
Liz, a seasoned gardener, anxious grandmother to Jacob, life-long worrier with a sweet and sensitive conscience, is the heart-and-soul of the group, most likely to be on hand when someone is needed “to dispense tissues, wipes, and make gentle conversation”.
The plot is cozy and tricky, with just the right blend of “Miss Marple”, interesting and quirky characters, secrets, unexpected nuance, colorful cardigans, and of course, heaps of tea and warm companionship.
I loved this book and look forward to reading more from this wonderful (and talented) new author.
A great big thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.