Simon Brett is an experienced author and scriptwriter who lives locally, so when I saw this offering on Netgalley, I couldn’t resist.
It is her characteristic generosity rather than her love of animals that finds Mrs Pargeter supporting her friend, Jasmine Angold, at a charity reception for PhiliPussies, whose worthy aim is to rehabilitate stray cats from the Greek island of Atmos into caring English homes. But the evening is to have unexpected consequences. At the event, Mrs P is taken aback to meet a woman who claims to be the sister of her late husband, the much-missed Mr Pargeter. This surprising encounter leads to unwelcome digging into past secrets, the discovery of a body in Epping Forest, an eventful trip to Greece – and unexpected danger for Mrs Pargeter. In the course of her investigations, she learns the true nature of charity and the dubious skills by which Public Relations can make evil look good.
I have once more crashed midway into this long-standing series, but Brett is far too deft and experienced to make that a problem. It didn’t take me all that long to realise that Mrs Pargeter is a widow, whose deceased husband was a crime boss – a detail that those who are in her employ go to some lengths to keep away from her. To be honest, that aspect of the storyline was a tad irritating, given she is also supposed to be intelligent and perceptive, as well as honest.
However, it certainly wasn’t a dealbreaker as this cosy mystery soon swung into action as Mrs P finds herself enmeshed in a tale of blackmail and wrongdoing. I found her a mostly endearing character – except for the aforementioned annoying blind spot – and she leads an enjoyably luxurious life, given she is very wealthy. However, that doesn’t necessarily shield her from those who would harm her. I liked the fact that unlike many protagonists, she’s not all that cat-minded – but gets involved with the charity because a friend wants her along. This is important, because when she is threatened, I cared. Despite the fact that there was no gore and this is as gentle as mysteries get, that didn’t stop there being plenty of pace and tension in this tale such that I tucked into this one and finished it in two greedy gulps.
This is an ideal summer read and if you want an entertaining mystery adventure that isn’t drenched in gore with some pleasing flashes of humour in amongst the adventure, then give this one a go.