Title: Blood in the Cotswolds (the 5th Thea Osborne mystery)
Author: Rebecca Tope
Narrator: Caroline Lennon
Publisher: Isis Audio Books 
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.