Review: A COTSWOLD ORDEAL by Rebecca Tope

Published by Allison and Busby; ISBN: 9780749082680 paperback, price £7.99

No, I didn’t get this free – I bought it!

I have to start with a personal disclosure – I have know Rebecca for many years, and she’s a good friend. But then again, any author who reviews books will very likely know the author he/she is reviewing, and will more than likely be moderately fond of the person. It is the nature of writing that we all tend to like other authors. 

Okay, so now that is out of the way, who is this author?

Rebecca has made a career out of pleasant, cosy crimes. She has had a mixed career, which has included work in a mortuary, in vets’ practices, as a house-sitter, and other assorted roles. She is a fascinating woman, with a very (as you can tell) broad range of interests, including, now, running her own publishing house, Praxis Books, which concentrates on the wonderful Devon author, the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924). He was a wonderful story-teller, but also a collector of stories and songs. In fact he has been credited with recording and saving many folk songs from his time, songs which had existed for many years and which without his careful records would probably have disappeared – although it has to be said, he did modify many of them. Any words he deemed too rude for Victorian sensibilities were replaced!

I can happily recommend his works, which are amazing (and show how hard life was for the average peasant), and especially since some of them are lucky enough to be graced by photos of Dartmoor which I took.

Anyway, back to this book.

The Cotswold series follow the career of Thea Osborne and her spaniel Hepzibah. Thea is a house-sitter. She has lost her husband, who died a year before, and is trying to reinvent herself, finding ways to forget her loss. House-sitting is one way to do so, getting herself away from her home and immersing herself in someone else’s. 

But the first attempt was less than successful, since she found herself bound up in a murder investigation. Lightning doesn’t twice, of course, so this one should be a lot better. She looks forward to staying in Frampton Mansell, a picture-perfect English village. What could be more idyllic?

The family seem very pleasant, the house is stunning, and there are chickens and a horse to be looked after while they leave Thea in charge and go wandering Ireland for a break. Thea is delighted with the place.

Until, that is, threatening graffiti is painted on a wall, the pet is run over, and other people seem to dislike the people who live there. Thea has no idea why, but then a body is discovered and she finds herself thrown into another enquiry – was it suicide? Or was it murder?

There are benefits – flirting more or less seriously with Hollis, the inspector, is a welcome distraction. But then her sister appears, asking to stay, apparently preparing to leave her husband and children, and …

Well, there are other subplots. 

This is a wonderful, cosy read, for anyone who enjoys good writing, a plot that doesn’t need the graphic pornography of violence which is so prevalent in modern crime, and for those who like strong characterisation. It helps that Rebecca is writing about areas she knows intimately, and for which she has a strong sense of identity. 

Seriously, I love this and Rebecca’s other titles. I heard only recently that the BBC has decided not to pursue more cosy stories for TV series, because viewers much prefer “edgy” thrillers. That is why Doc Martin is not continuing, apparently. It’s too pleasant and cosy for viewers. 

In the same way many publishers are not taking on any cosy mysteries. In God’s name, why? They are still enormously popular with the reading public, whether it’s Alexander McCall Smith’s books, or the continuing sales of Agatha Christie’s titles. 

If you like cosies, do your bit for their survival. Don’t only buy my books (don’t forget, buy them new or the author doesn’t have an income), but try out Rebecca’s too. You won’t be disappointed! 

If you want to see a copy, please use this link:

6 Responses to “Review: A COTSWOLD ORDEAL by Rebecca Tope”
  1. Lindsey Russell says:

    Is this a re-release? Read this sometime ago and loved it. In fact I’ve read most of Rebecca Tops’s books including the Lakeland ones and thoroughly enjoyed them all. I do read ‘edgy’ but like variety in the mix so a good cosy is always welcome :) .


    • HI, Lindsey, and no, it’s not new. It was first published in 2005. However, I’m writing reviews here not only for new books, but for books which I reckon a few people won’t have heard of, by authors I personally like. They may include older books that lots of people have already tried, but hopefully I’ll remind them to pick up a copy again! Sorry if it was confusing!


  2. Barbara Idzerda says:

    Yes, I’m also confused too. I read this book long ago. When was it published? I have read all of her books and love them.


    • Hallo, Barbara, and yes, this book came out in 2005, but I’m reviewing books here that I have read and enjoyed – generally not books I read a long time ago, but books I’ve only recently picked up. I’ve known Rebecca for many years, but hadn’t read this one, so thought I’d put up a review. It’s an interesting point – should I only review recently published books? Personally I think not, because they are being reviewed by many bloggers already, and what I want to do is provide a series of reviews for books that are new to me and good, which hopefully means I’ll be introducing books to a new audience, and thereby helping authors who are struggling now, rather than authors who are being paid large sums of money by publishers and getting a lot of publicity behind them. What’s your view?


      • Lindsey Russell says:

        Considering some of the dross currently being published reviewing old but EXCELLENT books has to be good :)


  3. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    A review from Michael


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