When Sheila Malory reluctantly agrees to help out in a charity shop for a few weeks, her friend warns her about the "control freak" manager Desmond Barlow. It is not without some trepidation that she begins her volunteer work. Before too long, she begins to get the measure of her fellow volunteers, including the bossy Norma Stanley; no-nonsense Jean; and Desmond’s mousey wife, Wendy. When Desmond’s lifeless body is discovered after an apparent botched robbery, Sheila finds herself at the heart of the investigation as Inspector Bob Morris seeks her help.
Bernard Prior was never popular with the rest of his family. And when his second cousin, Sheila Malory, is warned that he is visiting members of the Prior family in order to research their genealogy, Sheila considers it nothing more than a bore. However, what seems like an innocent pastime soon turns into something more sinister. When Bernard dies in suspicious circumstances, family secrets start to emerge.
Eva Jackson is Rosemary’s cousin ("umpteen times removed"), and she has moved back to her childhood home in Taviscombe after the untimely death of her beloved husband, Alan. As is the way of the village, Eva has been pounced upon by the local charities, and it is during a coffee morning that she mentions to Sheila Malory that she fears Alan might have died an unnatural death.... Sheila is intrigued and sets out to find out more.
Something peculiar is going on at the Group Medical Practice in Taviscombe and old Dr MacDonald seems very uneasy. Sheila Malory can’t help but feel that it may have something to do with the unexpected arrival from London of a new GP, Dr Morrison, an arrogant, cold-mannered man, whose alleged misdiagnosis of a local patient has made him the focus of the village rumour mill.
The village of Mere Barton is facing a time of upheaval, with traditional lifestyles being forced out by newcomers. When local author Sheila Malory is asked to research the history of the village, she has her reservations; 'The Book' is one of the many projects of Annie Roberts. Miserly and controlling, Annie is at the heart of everything that goes on in Mere Barton, much to the resentment of her fellow villagers. When Annie suffers a fatal bout of self-inflicted food poisoning, there is more relief than grief around the village.
When Sheila Malory's young granddaughter starts riding lessons, Sheila is happy to have the excuse to spend time with her friends who run the riding school. The affable Charlie Hamilton, former Olympic show-jumper, and his wife Josephine seem to have bounced back from previous incurred debts, living a charmed existence teaching local children to ride. But is everything quite as it seems? When Charlie's body is found in the stables, the inhabitants of Taviscombe are appalled and disturbed.
When widower Sidney Middleton is found dead in his cottage from carbon monoxide poisoning, Sheila Malory is deeply disturbed. On recent meetings the kindly old man had seemed in rude health and the official explanation that the wood-burning stove was faulty just doesn't seem to add up.
"Excellent story and characters"