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3.5 out of 5 stars225
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It is a bit hard to describe this novel, it is part thriller, part crime novel, and part cosy mystery. Also filled with gentle humour this is a book that isn't full of hardman action, but a nice relaxing read, that will definitely hold your interest.

Christopher is the chairman of the PLIF (Pitkirtly Local Improvement Forum), a small group who meet in a local pub and don't really do anything, after all Pitkirtly is a quiet backwater of a place. When Amaryllis, a retired spy moves to town though things start to get more interesting. With Amaryllis' plans for the local hall to be brought back into use, and Christopher's sister having a full breakdown things are rather hectic. But with a person mysteriously going missing, Christopher being offered a package of money, and even the PLIF supposedly having had council monetary support in the past, which no one knows about, things are getting a whole lot more complex, especially when Christopher is abducted.

Full of quirkiness and with some characters that will make you chuckle this is well worth reading. This would also make a good little mini-series for tv, so if you work in the industry this may well be worth you getting. I will have to check out some more books by this author.
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This is a gem of a book that I would have easily overlooked had it not been on the free Kindle list.

It's a mix of many different things that you so wouldn't expect to have been thrown together in a quiet little village in the middle of Nowhere, Scotland - money laundering, a retired spy moving to the village for peace and quiet - as if! - Iranian bad guys, the all-seeing eye of the Americans, busybodies, the local pub and place where it all happens, a bit of a mystery, a disappearance, council snoops, a touch of Hyacinth Bucket delusions and aspirations of grandeur, and from a man at that...It might sound confusing, but it totally worked, and I found myself chuckling quietly every so often.

The dialogue was witty, it had interesting characters, a well-thought-of plot and gently darkish humour. It reminded me a little of the community in the movie Hot Fuzz, but without the sinister bits. A great little tale.
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on 1 October 2011
Here's another book I wouldn't have read if it hadn't been free on Kindle because I thought it might turn out to be rather silly. The writing is very good, the characters come alive in spite of the quirky humour throughout the novel. I really enjoyed it and the crime aspect was interesting enough to make me want to read it quickly to find out the answers to the various happenings. Although the answer didn't astound me, it wasn't blatantly obvious either. Now I'm going to buy the other two novels by the author Cecilia Peartree (surely not a real name!). After reading this, I am happy to pay for them.
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on 6 January 2012
Crime in the Community
Cecilia Peartree
Read January 3 - 5 2012

My rating: 3 / 5

This book is billed a mystery, and is set in a Scottish village. I downloaded it as the customer reviews were favourable, and it fit with the genre of book I prefer, ie: crime/mystery/thriller. The front cover also suggested that it might be quite dark and bleak in places which again appealed to me.

Well, I was wrong. The old adage of `never judge a book by its cover' has never been truer! This book is not dark or bleak, and feels a million miles away from the image portrayed on the cover. The story doesn't have a dark or bleak angle and it certainly isn't a thriller, it is much more of a `friendly' mystery. What I meant by this is that the `bad guys' aren't of the type you'll find in a Lee Child, Harlan Coben or Jo Nesbo book, but instead are almost anonymous individuals with no real personal vendetta or malice.

I should note that this is the first of Peartree's books, and it seemed to me that the author had lots of ideas for different characters that she wanted to explore and as such, they all appear in this one book. The result if that you don't actually get to know any one character particularly well and therefore can't build a picture of them, nor feel any real empathy. For example, the lead character, Christopher, seems to have an interesting back story and complex relationships, yet this doesn't really come to light until the end and even then only in brief. I'd hope that future books in this series expand on the characters and we can begin to understand their actions and relationships more. The introduction of the American characters also seemed a little odd, and I felt like the author had an idea for a set of characters and almost `shoe-horned' them into this book.

I'll be honest and say I struggled to get into this book, it seemed very wordy and the kindle formatting made the text look very dense; the publishers might want to think about putting in more white space. Peartree's writing style is very `wordy' making sentences long. But, that said, the more I persevered with it, the easier it became to get into the authors writing style, and to empathise with the characters more. Prior to this, I have been reading a lot of work by very established authors from big publishing houses so this observation may just be a personal thing to me, having been reading a particular style for the past four or five books.

All that said, if you want an easy, comfortable and, at times, funny read, then you won't go far wrong with this. It's not a classic book, but as it is the first in a series by this author I'd hope that her writing style will settle and we'll see more exploration of the characters in the later stories.
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on 31 December 2011
I'm not too sure where to start with this one, to be honest I nearly put it down after the first few pages but am glad I did not.

Is is a thriller, a gentle detective story, a comedy; still not sure as it is a combination of all three with some vivid characters and was fun to read.

The story line is based around the characters on a village 'improvement' committee and their quiet life is rudely interrupted by the arrival of an outsider keen to join them after which life changes dramatically with council officials, spies, foreign agents, the police all taking a keen interest in their efforts to restore the village hall.

As I say, after an uncertain start I really enjoyed it.
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on 17 April 2012
I like the opening of the book, and was gently amused over the first chapter or two. A cosy village story, I thought, a touch of M C Beaton and Agatha and the Vicar of Dibley, I thought. Rather better written, I thought. A nice relaxing read to follow Last Man in Tower, by Aravind Adiga.

Then, 20% of the way through, the 'plot' just left the rails. What had been quite detailed now became incomprehensible to me, as if the author had suddenly decided that something had better be done to liven things up and having someone kidnapped was the way to go. There didn't appear to be any lead-up to this kidnapping as far as I could see. A whole chapter went by without reference to the missing official, then suddenly the heroine is asking a mysterious contact what he has done with the fellow. It is quite disjointed and very clunky.

At this stage, I lost the will to live, I am afraid. It is a pity, the writer is good with words, although sometimes a shorter sentence might have more impact. There is some humour there, some of the characters occasionally come to life briefly and then subside into a pastiche. But there isn't enough to make me care about any of them, and there isn't enough background to round them out.

A bit of drastic pruning might have made this book possible, but all in all and, sadly, I don't think I shall be looking out for any more books by this author.
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on 15 May 2012
I wasn't sure what to make of this book at first. From the opening few paragraphs, I was expecting an Agatha Raisin type read. It is very different however. I found it slow going at times but the end of the story is gripping and I started to care about the characters. I have since read the second book in the series, Reunited in Death and am halfway through the third, A Reformed Character which I am enjoying very much. I have found that this series is worth sticking with and each book gets progressively better. We keep meeting the same core group of characters who develop with each book so that I am starting to get hooked on the series.
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on 21 December 2011
First off I will say that I really don't like the cover, it's gritty and grey and bleak and Scottish . This book kept cropping up and it's free and time passed and even though I kept clicking on the Amazon page, I really didn't fancy it. But for some reason I tried it and I'm so glad I did.

I would possibly call it a bit chick-lit-ish apart from the main character being a bloke. I might even put it into the cosy mystery group, but it's not too cosy. Perhaps a bit Miss Marpley but the mystery is not that important.
Whatever, it was a great read with some lovely characters and not at all gritty like my first impressions gave me. I didn't find it too Scottish either :)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 November 2014
I really enjoyed this humorous whodunnit, which had me laughing out loud several times. It has a similar tone to the writings of MC Beaton and the book is quite skilfully written. It is rare to find a self-published book which is as commercially viable and as free from typos and grammatical mistakes [though I did find one spelling mistake and one typo]. Humour is a particularly difficult genre to write successfully, but Cecilia Peartree does it very well. Of course the story is ludicrous and OTT, but since the author is playing it for laughs that does not matter. The story progresses at a spanking pace and is very readable. It is an ideal choice when one simply wants relaxed, light reading and a bit of a chuckle, though I suspect that whether one likes this story or not depends on whether one share's the author's sense of humour.
Amaryllis Peebles is only 40 or so but she has decided to retire from her job as a spy. She moves to the quiet Scottish village of Pitkirtly and, both forceful and resourceful [and with a secret motive or two] she joins the Pitkirtly Local Improvement Forum. This sleepy committee spends most of its meetings drinking and socialising in the pub. Amaryllis wants the decrepit village hall renovated but the committee, especially chairman Christopher Wilson, are horrified that they may actually have to do something to improve the village. Before long, they are swept up into a situation where nothing is as it seems...
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This novel shows, at times, some really witty and clever observational writing about small towns and community organisations. There was a section about filling in a local authority form to apply for community funding which can only have been written by someone who has performed this hellish task. There was also some insightful writing about mental health issues and the character of an older man, lonely and stuck in a rut, was very well done.

Most of the novel, however, involved a plot about spies which I found almost impossible to follow. I also kept getting the minor characters mixed up and so did not always know who had just done what and why ... after a while I began not to care. On several occasions I decided to abandon the novel and then I would reach a witty or clever sector and be beguiled into continuing. I am not sure that the experience of reading the whole book was worth the good sections; but when they were good they were very good, had the whole book been of that calibre it would have been worth four stars. A pity that the novel was so patchy.
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