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.
However, as Sheila continues to work on the book, she discovers that Annie's influence was due to more than just her forceful personality. Was the death as accidental as it first seemed?
Hazel Holt's mysteries are little gems of their kind. I love them for the detail - Foss and Tris and their feelings about visiting the vet, what kind of biscuits a neighbour serves.... and for the familiarity of her way of life, but also for the humanity of the writing. In Any Man's Death I especially liked the friendship which develops between Sheila and Father William.
Patricia Gallimore is a superb narrator. I'd been impressed by her range and variety before and this reading only cements that. She does English regional accents convincingly, from the irritating to the sympathetic, and has an amazing vocal range - of course, she's a highly experienced radio actor, and her voice is instantly recognisable, so that the British listener may from time to time find themselves wondering why Pat Archer has strayed from Ambridge, but I can't praise her narration highly enough.
Altogether a real pleasure, and I can only hope that in due course the rest of the Mrs Malory books will be recorded, as so far only a few are available.
These plots are never amazing, I don't think they are meant to be.
They are 'cosy', no gory detail, nothing to give you nightmares. The story just ambles along quite nicely. This one DID have a little bit more story after the denouement, as I find Holt's books sometimes just STOP as though she has reached her word count and she will not write a word extra.
Plot was reasonable enough, kept one guessing, BUT I did find the ending to be quite unbelievable, NOT so much the WHO DONE IT and WHY - but the good Mrs Mallory's reaction to the murderer.
The performance was OK, Sheila's voice was how I had imagined it in my head reading the books, the voice Rosemary was a tad annoying, too nasal and dopey.
The biggest crime was the voice of the lady who was supposed to be from Birmingham - which made me laugh out loud, as it put me in mind of the the late Beryl Reid's character 'Marleen' who had an exaggerated and over the top Brummie accent.
I do wonder if Patricia Gallimore had ever actually met anyone from Birmingham.
Apart from that it I enjoyed the reading, passed a few hours quite nicely.