by Veronica Heley
The author of False Fire, Veronica Heley, 83 years old and creator of over 70 books, just made my “go to” mystery writer list. The list is short; it starts and ends with Agatha Christie. At no point in reading False Fire did I want to put it down. There were no artificial hooks to keep me reading—it was the action of the plot. It just kept moving at such a rapid pace, starting with the first chapter, that I was compelled to devour the book.
The writing was well-done, and the characters were interesting. Heley has created a main character in Bea Abbot who is resourceful, observant, and intelligent. She runs the Abbot Agency—for domestics, not detectives. In False Fire, Bea is attending a dinner when a fire breaks out in the home, followed by an explosion and power outages. There is general mayhem and children to be rescued. Later Bea has to sort through the relationships of a very dysfunctional family to try to discover the arsonist. Was the crime, in fact, arson? There are many Britishisms but most are understandable within the context, and all add to the fun of reading a book by a British author.
I am so grateful to have found this prolific author. Although I enjoy the diversity of themes and ideas in cozy mysteries, I appreciate even more a mystery like this one that is hardcore in the sense that the focus is the developing plot. At the same time, there is not a detailed description of violence or sex. The language is always appropriate. While this is in no way a Christian book, the author’s faith is evident as she has her main character pray for help on several occasions. Both the main character and the mystery should be described as “strong”: no evidence of milquetoast in sight!
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: #11 in the Abbot Agency series, but easily read like a standalone for me
Publication: April 1, 2017—Severn House
The other girl was a sweetie, but not exactly the Brain of Britain.
Bernice gave alternate mouthfuls to Teddy, who was assuming a careworn appearance. Much loving can do that to you.
The man plunged down the corridor, disappearing into tendrils of smoke which curled about the figure and obscured him from Bea’s view. She stumbled after him, straining her eyes to see through the mist, which thickened and darkened as they advanced.