When irascible farmer Guy Beardon meets a very dirty death in his own farmyard, at first it seems like an accident – despite the fact that he was widely disliked. Only his daughter suspects foul play. Suspicion becomes certainty when two more deaths occur – and both of them are unmistakably murder... It had already been a spring laden with mortality. News reports were full of terrorist bombings, earthquakes and floods, and a whole herd of prime beef animals had been wasted on the altar of BSE-phobia. So it was with a strange momentary lack of surprise that Lilah found her father, early that morning, half-submerged face down in the slurry pit. The difficulty lies in discovering who, among Guy’s many enemies, hated him enough to want him dead – and who went on killing to conceal the truth. Could it be the vicar, secretly intrigued by the evil that men do? The best friend of Guy’s wife Miranda? The crusty wing commander – or the too-good-to-be-true freelance computer whizz? There is certainly no shortage of suspects. Even the ubiquitous Hetty Taplow, the village gossip, appears to know more than she’ll admit...
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Rebecca Tope is the author of two major amateur sleuth murder mystery series, featuring Thea Osborne, house sitter in the Cotswolds and Persimmon Brown, Lake District florist. She is also the "ghost writer" of the novels based on the ITV series Rosemary and Thyme.From Booklist:
The village mystery, long a staple of the genre, takes on a new life in the hands of a talented first-time novelist. Tope understands the enduring appeal of her formula: routine rural life, populated by familiar faces and characters, is disastrously interrupted by violence, forcing characters to give up what they would prefer to keep hidden. In this case, though, the characters doing the hiding are doing it unconsciously and are often more surprised than anyone else to discover what's in the closet. Although the English village setting is attractively described in the classic manner, the real focus here is on the people. There's Den, the determined policeman who finds himself drawn to the young and attractive Lilah, daughter of the murdered dairy farmer. There's the roundly disliked victim, Guy Beardon, who meets his (fitting?) demise by drowning in a manure pool. There's his wife, Miranda, whose on-and-off affair with the hired hand sets tongues wagging. And, inevitably, there's a cast of intriguing supporting characters, including eccentric neighbors and a gossipy vicar. Tope weaves all of these lives into a comfortable but compelling tale, providing yet another demonstration of how satisfying the basic conventions of a formula mystery can be in the hands of a talented writer. A stellar debut by an author to watch. Stuart Miller
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