Residing in the grandeur of Hollywell Manor in the village of Cranham is home for house-sitter Thea Osborne and her spanial Hepzibah for the next two weeks. Her tasks are not arduous, all the owner, Harriet Young, asks is that Thea keep a watchful on her geckoes, housed in the cellar. Oh! and to welcome seventy-year-old Donny Davis who lives in the former lodge for a daily cup of coffee and a chat. For once June looks to be dry and sunny, and Thea is all set for an enjoyable time.
When next day Donny walks up from the lodge for his coffee, she is delighted to find that he is an interesting man, clearly not well, but a good conversationalist and Thea, as she readily admits, is a nosy parker. Donny tells her that he is looked after by his daughter Jemima, who comes in daily. He has a lady friend Edwina Satterthwaite, but she is away visiting relatives at the moment. Donny's wife Janet, she learns is in a nursing home, visited only, she later learns, by his late daughter Cecilia's husband Toby, which she finds a little strange.
But as in all classic English villages unexpected death lurks, and Cranham is no exception. Unfortunately, Thea's reputation for being involved in murderous incidents has spread, and soon she in drawn into the darker side of Cranham.
The strength of this book lies in the fascinating characters, and the wonderful descriptions of the Cotswold countryside as Thea takes Hepzie for her daily walks. As in 'A Grave in the Cotswolds', Undertaker Drew Slocombe makes an appearance, as he is still pursuing a possible burial ground in Broad Camden, but as he tells Thea, his partner Maggs is against it, and his wife Karen cannot handle any major decisions since her injury which has so changed her personality.
This is an interesting book dealing with the pros and cons of a topical dilemma, and whilst the mystery is resolved, the ending leaves this reader hungry for the next instalment in this acclaimed series.