Review: Blood in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope

Title: Blood in the Cotswolds (the 5th Thea Osborne mystery)

Author: Rebecca Tope

Narrator: Caroline Lennon

Publisher: Isis Audio Books [2008]

ISBN: N/A (downloaded via audible)

Length: 8hrs 54mins

Setting: The Cotswolds region of England, present-day

Genre: Amateur sleuth / police procedural

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My rating: 3/5

One-liner: A gentle English village murder mystery that delivers exactly what you expect.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Thea Osborne is a historian and house-sitter whose current job takes her to the village of Temple Guiting. Her boyfriend, senior policeman Phil Hollis, joins her for the weekend but while there slips a disc in his back and has to stay on longer to recuperate. He is therefore present when a large tree is uprooted and a skeleton is uncovered. The bones turn out to be relatively recent and a full-blown murder investigation ensues, though Hollis is on sick leave and has to sit painfully on the sidelines while the official investigation is carried out.

My primary reason for selecting this book was fond memories of staying in the Cotswolds several times (although no blood was spilled during my trips there) and in that respect I was not disappointed. The story’s village setting is depicted exactly as I imagined where any crime is relatively gentle and the suspect pool consists of a handful of characters who share complicated family connections and long histories and everyone is very civilised. Even when one of the suspects holds one of the protagonists at gunpoint it’s all done in quite a gentlemanly way and it never feels like anyone is in much actual danger of getting hurt. To take one’s mind off the criminal element there’s a pet snake, snippets of Templar history and an English version of a hot summer (where I live several days of 28°C-30°C temperatures would qualify as a cool change during our summers).

Thea Osborne is quite a strong female character, especially as her civil libertarian leanings are at odds with her boyfriend’s job and she doesn’t automatically fall into a nursemaid role when Hollis is injured but Hollis is a bit wet. Having experienced the same back injury myself I can appreciate that the author has captured his pain and frustration well but there is a limit to how interesting someone else’s ailments can be and, for me anyway, that limit was reached before the end of this book.

Although it was a pleasant enough tale it didn’t really have anything terribly original to offer but if you’re a fan of Misdomer Murders I think you’d probably enjoy this book. If you like audio books I can recommend this narration as Caroline Lennon does a rather good job of drawing you into the story and differentiating the characters in an understated way that suits the tone of the story.

4 thoughts on “Review: Blood in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope

  1. Misdomer Murders? Never heard of those ;)

    You have tempted me, though, and I may buy it for my What´s in a name challenge (place name).

  2. This Review was featured on my Blog Carnival.

    You may see the blog carnival here:

    http://mysterysuspence.blogspot.com/2010/01/mystery-crime-fiction-blog-carnival-for.html

    If you – or other bloggers you are aware of – have appropriate posts for future blog carnival editions, you may find more information including how to submit specific posts here:

    http://mysterysuspence.blogspot.com/2009/11/special-announcement-carnival-coming.html

    Thank You,
    AF Heart

  3. Trying hard to get through the book and finding it extremely boring and dragging. Yes, the DSI’s back injury is depicted in a very authentic manner and could be said to be the star of the book. Only a first hand knowledge of a back problem could inspire such a detailed description. The ‘hero’ comes across as a strait laced wimp, while his lady love appears as hard and unfeeling and erratic in her preferences. Only from his view point do you see the character she is supposed to be. This is ok as many of us do see our loved ones through rose coloured lenses when the reality is very different. The analysis of the DSI’s every thought – though sometimes showing shrewd insight – becomes too much to handle as he wallows in insecurity re his relationship with the lovely (in actual fact the not so lovely, but that’s our secret) Thea. These two don’t seem to have anything in common except sex. Definitely on my list of books I wish I hadn’t bought. Maybe her other books are better.
    You can’t judge an author by one book and tastes do differ.
    Also musn’t forget, those who can – write, those who can’t – criticise.

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