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A Spoonful Of Murder

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Retirement can be murder… Every Thursday, three retired school teachers have their ‘coffee o’clock’ sessions at the Thirsk Garden Centre café. But one fateful week, as they are catching up with a slice of cake, they bump into their ex-colleague, Topsy. By the next Thursday, Topsy’s dead. The last thing Liz, Thelma and Pat imagined was that they would become involved in a mur Retirement can be murder… Every Thursday, three retired school teachers have their ‘coffee o’clock’ sessions at the Thirsk Garden Centre café. But one fateful week, as they are catching up with a slice of cake, they bump into their ex-colleague, Topsy. By the next Thursday, Topsy’s dead. The last thing Liz, Thelma and Pat imagined was that they would become involved in a murder. But they know there’s more to Topsy’s death than meets the eye – and it’s down to them to prove it… Sit down with a cup of tea, a slice of cake and this perfectly witty, page-turning cosy crime novel. Fans of The Thursday Murder Club, Death in Paradise and Midsomer Murders will be hooked from the very first page.


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Retirement can be murder… Every Thursday, three retired school teachers have their ‘coffee o’clock’ sessions at the Thirsk Garden Centre café. But one fateful week, as they are catching up with a slice of cake, they bump into their ex-colleague, Topsy. By the next Thursday, Topsy’s dead. The last thing Liz, Thelma and Pat imagined was that they would become involved in a mur Retirement can be murder… Every Thursday, three retired school teachers have their ‘coffee o’clock’ sessions at the Thirsk Garden Centre café. But one fateful week, as they are catching up with a slice of cake, they bump into their ex-colleague, Topsy. By the next Thursday, Topsy’s dead. The last thing Liz, Thelma and Pat imagined was that they would become involved in a murder. But they know there’s more to Topsy’s death than meets the eye – and it’s down to them to prove it… Sit down with a cup of tea, a slice of cake and this perfectly witty, page-turning cosy crime novel. Fans of The Thursday Murder Club, Death in Paradise and Midsomer Murders will be hooked from the very first page.

30 review for A Spoonful Of Murder

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*

    EXCERPT: Since they'd all been retired (Pat two years, Thelma and Liz four) it had to be said the weekends had somewhat lost that special quality - that snatched, hallowed glow. Truth be told, the days even held a certain . . . sameness - Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays - a sameness to be fought against with book groups and keep fit classes and stints in the charity shop. Fought against, but not admitted to. Hence coffee o'clock every Thursday in the café at Thirsk Garden Centre (good parking, well EXCERPT: Since they'd all been retired (Pat two years, Thelma and Liz four) it had to be said the weekends had somewhat lost that special quality - that snatched, hallowed glow. Truth be told, the days even held a certain . . . sameness - Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays - a sameness to be fought against with book groups and keep fit classes and stints in the charity shop. Fought against, but not admitted to. Hence coffee o'clock every Thursday in the café at Thirsk Garden Centre (good parking, well away from tourists). And if it hadn't been a Thursday . . . if it hadn't been the garden centre cafe . . . they wouldn't have met Topsy and KellyAnne and, crucially, Thelma wouldn't have come across Topsy crying in the toilets, which they all agreed was really the start of things. ABOUT 'A SPOONFUL OF MURDER': Retirement can be murder… Every Thursday, three retired school teachers have their ‘coffee o’clock’ sessions at the Thirsk Garden Centre café. But one fateful week, as they are catching up with a slice of cake, they bump into their ex-colleague, Topsy. By the next Thursday, Topsy’s dead. The last thing Liz, Thelma and Pat imagined was that they would become involved in a murder. But they know there’s more to Topsy’s death than meets the eye – and it’s down to them to prove it… MY THOUGHTS: A Spoonful of Murder is an entertaining cosy murder mystery starring three very down to earth retired teachers, any one of whom could be your neighbour. My favourite character was definitely Pat. Self-deprecating, inquisitive and very wise in her own way, Pat is definitely easy to relate to and often had me laughing at her inner thoughts. Thelma and Liz are the ideal sidekicks. The plot flows at an even pace, with numerous humorous moments. There are a veritable plethora of red herrings and multiple suspects who could be responsible for Topsy's death, but WHY? Why would anyone want to murder a harmless, if slightly befuddled, old lady? Narrator Julie Hesmondhalgh has a wonderful range of voices and intonation in her repertoire and I would instantly be attracted to anything she narrates. A Spoonful of Murder, as well as being a delightfully entertaining read, deals with dementia, loan sharks, and cleverly outlines many of the ways the vulnerable elderly can be defrauded of their life savings. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.1 #ASpoonfulofMurder #NetGalley I: @jm_hall_writer @harpercollinsuk @avonbooksuk T: @ HarperCollinsUK @AvonBooksUK #audiobook #contemporaryfiction #cosymystery #murdermystery THE AUTHOR: J.M. Hall is a 20-something PR executive based in New York City. A Philadelphia native, he began writing fiction during his time at the University of Miami before embarking on a career in corporate communications. During the day, he can be found getting top-tier press for his clients in outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Fortune and USA Today. At night, he can be found at his computer, crafting his next story. DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK, and HarperCollins Audio for providing both a digital and an audio ARC of A Spoonful of Murder by J.M. Hall for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. A Spoonful of Murder by J.M. Hall is available in Kindle and audiobook formats. For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sujoya

    Now available as of March17, 2022 3.5⭐️ rounded down. As the story begins, we meet Liz, Pat and Thelma, former colleagues and retired teachers of St. Barnabus’s Primary School who meet up every Thursday at the Thirsk Garden Centre café sharing gossip and tidbits about their lives and families. On one particular Thursday, they bump into Topsy, another ex-colleague, former nursery nurse at the same school, and her daughter Kelly Anne. Topsy is in the early stages of dementia , a condition that has w Now available as of March17, 2022 3.5⭐️ rounded down. As the story begins, we meet Liz, Pat and Thelma, former colleagues and retired teachers of St. Barnabus’s Primary School who meet up every Thursday at the Thirsk Garden Centre café sharing gossip and tidbits about their lives and families. On one particular Thursday, they bump into Topsy, another ex-colleague, former nursery nurse at the same school, and her daughter Kelly Anne. Topsy is in the early stages of dementia , a condition that has worsened since the death of her husband . KellyAnne is her only caregiver. While the friends appreciate KellyAnne’s taking care of her mother and sympathize with their situation, they also sense that there is something that is not quite right when Topsy shares some disturbing facts . This prompts the friends to visit her at her home. They come to know that recently Topsy has been the victim of financial fraud and has lost all her life savings. When Topsy is found dead in her home the following week Liz , Pat and Thelma suspect that there might be more to her death than meets the eye. Though Topsy's death is attributed to her “muddling” her medication , the friends take it upon themselves to investigate both her death and the bank fraud which occurred prior to the same, all the while dealing with their personal family concerns. Added to the mix is Paula, Topsy’s cleaner and former employee at the school where Topsy and the ladies were employed who has nothing good to say about KellyAnne , Paula's stripper/call center worker son, a real estate agent with dubious intentions, a builder with a corrupt agenda and a bank employee who is definitely hiding something. J.M.Hall’s debut novel, A Spoonful of Murder is a charming cozy mystery with three smart, inquisitive and determined protagonists, a good dose of humor and an interesting premise. The story touches upon issues such as elder care and financial exploitation of vulnerable individuals by fraudulent entities, both of which are important issues. However, the narrative does take a while to pick up the pace, and only does so after the halfway mark. I found the writing a bit long-drawn and repetitive in parts and it took a bit of effort to focus as I waited for the mystery to unravel. There are multiple red herrings and numerous sub-plots which are a bit difficult to keep track of and do distract from the primary track. Though my attention wavered at points I was happy with the way the story is ultimately wrapped up. Thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books, UK for the digital review copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    A Spoonful of Murder is the debut novel of J.M. Hall. It is a British cozy mystery featuring three kind, smart, and curious protagonists who have extra time on their hands since they retired. I wanted to like this British cozy, but I found it hard to read. I felt like I was in the middle of a tornado twisting round and round. That is what this book felt like to me. The writing style is the problem. The author is overly descriptive, the pacing is slow, and it is hard to tell which character is ta A Spoonful of Murder is the debut novel of J.M. Hall. It is a British cozy mystery featuring three kind, smart, and curious protagonists who have extra time on their hands since they retired. I wanted to like this British cozy, but I found it hard to read. I felt like I was in the middle of a tornado twisting round and round. That is what this book felt like to me. The writing style is the problem. The author is overly descriptive, the pacing is slow, and it is hard to tell which character is talking (they all sounded alike to me). There was also too much repetition (because of the switching viewpoint and memories issues). The first two-thirds of the book is slow going with the pacing picking up toward the end as the mystery reaches its climax. We follow Liz, Thelma, and Pat as they go about their day-to-day activities plus work to solve the mystery. We are privy to their thoughts about on their lives, families, and friends (with it often being in parenthesis which is distracting and further slows down the pace). We are introduced to a multitude of people with many of them having nothing to do with the mystery. The author tried to make the mystery complex with multiple red herrings and subplots. By the end of the first chapter, I knew who would die and the identity of the killer. I can understand having a red herring or two, but the author went overboard. The mystery was nicely wrapped up at the end. It is carefully explained how Topsy died and how the killer accomplished the deed. We also are privy as to how the three amateur sleuths pieced together the clues. There are several themes in A Spoonful of Murder that includes elder care, dementia, aging, elder financial fraud, parenting, and childlessness. I like the close friendship between Liz, Thelma, and Pat. I liked the humor scattered throughout the story. II felt, though, that the author missed the mark with this cozy. A Spoonful of Murder should have been a light cozy mystery with plenty of humor and warm characters. The book felt long and drawn out. I wanted to like A Spoonful of Murder, but it was hard as the story jumped from issue to issue and character to character. I found it a chore to complete this book. While A Spoonful of Murder was not for me, I suggest you obtain a sample to judge for yourself. A Spoonful of Murder is an eventful British cozy with coffee klatches, financial fraud, a difficult death, muddled memories, and firm friends.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    (4.5*) A Spoonful Of Murder is an engrossing mystery, which in most respects fits the "cosy" genre, but also raises some very pertinent social issues around how elderly people, particularly those suffering with some form of dementia, can be manipulated and abused by those around them. Retired Yorkshire school teachers Liz, Pat and Thelma meet up every Thursday morning for "coffee o'clock" at at the Thirsk Garden Centre Café. During one such meeting, they bump into their former colleague, the once (4.5*) A Spoonful Of Murder is an engrossing mystery, which in most respects fits the "cosy" genre, but also raises some very pertinent social issues around how elderly people, particularly those suffering with some form of dementia, can be manipulated and abused by those around them. Retired Yorkshire school teachers Liz, Pat and Thelma meet up every Thursday morning for "coffee o'clock" at at the Thirsk Garden Centre Café. During one such meeting, they bump into their former colleague, the once-redoubtable Topsy, accompanied by her daughter KellyAnne. It quickly becomes clear that Topsy is no longer the woman she once was - she's fast deteriorating with a dementia-type illness. Attempting to make conversation with Topsy when KerryAnne leaves her with them, they all feel sad to see her in this bewildered state. However, things take an alarming turn when Topsy confides in Thelma about people coming to her house, "financial misnomers" and that someone had said "It'd be better all round if she was dead." when he thought Topsy was sleeping. The real Thirsk Garden Centre Coffee Shop (R), but I couldn't resist the image of three ladies having a natter at the nearby Old Barn Coffee Shop (L). The women resolve to keep an eye on their old friend, but within a fortnight Topsy is in fact dead, apparently having "mucked up" her medication while KellyAnne was away on a mini-break in Portugal. In light of Topsy's comments to Thelma, the three friends aren't satisfied that Topsy's death was the simple accident it appears, and begin a surreptitious investigation of their own into the events leading up to what has occurred. They uncover a rather shocking trail of elder abuse - worst of all that Topsy had been conned out of her life savings by somebody masquerading as a bank employee. She'd also been targeted by a dodgy local builder, who'd convinced her that her late husband had arranged the expensive and unnecessary work he's done (or half-done) around her home. KellyAnne also shows them the evidence of an insidious campaign of targeted catalogues and "special offers" received by Topsy over recent months, apparently designed to draw in the vulnerable to unnecessary financial outlay. And what of KerryAnne herself? Why would she take off to Portugal at a moment's notice without arranging anyone to look out for her ailing mother? And who are the pushy real estate agent and her rather dishy young assistant, who always seem to be hanging around Topsy's home? The course of the women's investigatory efforts is interwoven with the narrative of each of their own home lives and the goings-on around the town of Thirsk. All three are engaging characters, and I especially loved Pat's no-nonsense approach to life and humorous self-deprecating asides. As the daughter of a teacher, I found that their interactions and preoccupations evoked a sense of nostalgia for listening to my mother and her colleagues-friends chatter during quilting nights. While on the whole A Spoonful Of Murder is a light and entertaining read, the issues around financial abuse of the elderly are very real and disturbing. From an interview with the author that was placed at the conclusion of the audiobook edition, it transpires that J.M. Hall had to confront many similar issues during his own father's battle with dementia. He's drawn on those experiences to create a very engaging but cautionary tale for those entering their so-called "golden years" and the friends and family members who care for them. I loved the sense of setting in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, and the very distinctive usage and vernacular in the character's dialogue. The Thirsk Garden Centre and Coffee Shop is a real place, to which J.M. Hall pays homage in his acknowledgements. A Spoonful Of Murder is J.M. Hall's first novel, and is obviously based substantially around his own experiences. I'm pleased to see that a second novel (A Pen Dipped in Poison) is scheduled for release in early 2023 - I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! I'd enthusiastically recommend A Spoonful Of Murder to any lover of traditional-style character-based mysteries. Having read an advance e-copy, I'll be purchasing a physical copy of the book for my own collection and to share with friends. My thanks to the author (Jonathan) J.M. Hall, publisher Avon Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this charming and enthralling story.

  5. 4 out of 5

    bookishcharli

    This book follows ex colleagues Liz, Pat and Thelma as they meet up every Thursday to catch up on each other’s lives. One Thursday they bump into another one of the old colleagues, Topsy, and her daughter. It turns out that Topsy has been diagnosed with dementia that has been getting progressively worse since the death of her husband, and the only person in her life she has caring for her is her daughter. During this surprise encounter the girls are concerned for Topsy after she shares some insi This book follows ex colleagues Liz, Pat and Thelma as they meet up every Thursday to catch up on each other’s lives. One Thursday they bump into another one of the old colleagues, Topsy, and her daughter. It turns out that Topsy has been diagnosed with dementia that has been getting progressively worse since the death of her husband, and the only person in her life she has caring for her is her daughter. During this surprise encounter the girls are concerned for Topsy after she shares some insights into her life that aren’t quite right. The girls decide to visit Topsy at her home to check up on her and see what exactly is going on, while there they discover that she has lost all of her life savings and has been a victim of fraud. When Topsy is found dead the girls know there is more to this than meets the eye. The girls take it upon themselves to investigate Topsy’s death and digging into what happened with the bank fraud and her death. So who is responsible for Topsy’s death? Does her daughter have something to do with it? You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out! I really enjoyed this fun read, and I felt the pacing of the plot was okay for the length of the book and the amount of detail we’re given while reading. I was hooked right up until the end and I had many guesses as to who was responsible for Topsy’s death, and what was going on. Thanks to NetGalley and Avon for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Skyesmum

    I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The main characters are retired teachers in a primary school and as I worked in primary schools for a lot of years I found the analogies brilliant! The story took on some delicate issues which we know happens all to regularly and my heart went out to the victim... It was a great cosy crime audiobook and the narrator is brilliant!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    A Spoonful Of Murder is an engrossing mystery, which in most respects fits the "cosy" genre, but also raises some very pertinent social issues around how elderly people, particularly those suffering with some form of dementia, can be manipulated and abused by those around them. The audiobook narration by Julie Hesmondhalgh is absolutely wonderful, with her characteristically northern delivery. It also includes an illuminating recorded interview between Hesmondhalgh and author J.M. Hall at the con A Spoonful Of Murder is an engrossing mystery, which in most respects fits the "cosy" genre, but also raises some very pertinent social issues around how elderly people, particularly those suffering with some form of dementia, can be manipulated and abused by those around them. The audiobook narration by Julie Hesmondhalgh is absolutely wonderful, with her characteristically northern delivery. It also includes an illuminating recorded interview between Hesmondhalgh and author J.M. Hall at the conclusion of the book. Retired Yorkshire school teachers Liz, Pat and Thelma meet up every Thursday morning for "coffee o'clock" at at the Thirsk Garden Centre Café. During one such meeting, they bump into their former colleague, the once-redoubtable Topsy, accompanied by her daughter KellyAnne. It quickly becomes clear that Topsy is no longer the woman she once was - she's fast deteriorating with a dementia-type illness. Attempting to make conversation with Topsy when KerryAnne leaves her with them, they all feel sad to see her in this bewildered state. However, things take an alarming turn when Topsy confides in Thelma about people coming to her house, "financial misnomers" and that someone had said "It'd be better all round if she was dead." when he thought Topsy was sleeping. The women resolve to keep an eye on their old friend, but within a fortnight Topsy is in fact dead, apparently having "mucked up" her medication while KellyAnne was away on a mini-break in Portugal. In light of Topsy's comments to Thelma, the three friends aren't satisfied that Topsy's death was the simple accident it appears, and begin a surreptitious investigation of their own into the events leading up to what has occurred. They uncover a rather shocking trail of elder abuse - worst of all that Topsy had been conned out of her life savings by somebody masquerading as a bank employee. She'd also been targeted by a dodgy local builder, who'd convinced her that her late husband had arranged the expensive and unnecessary work he's done (or half-done) around her home. KellyAnne also shows them the evidence of an insidious campaign of targeted catalogues and "special offers" received by Topsy over recent months, apparently designed to draw in the vulnerable to unnecessary financial outlay. And what of KerryAnne herself? Why would she take off to Portugal at a moment's notice without arranging anyone to look out for her ailing mother? And who are the pushy real estate agent and her rather dishy young assistant, who always seem to be hanging around Topsy's home? The course of the women's investigatory efforts is interwoven with the narrative of each of their own home lives and the goings-on around the town of Thirsk. All three are engaging characters, and I especially loved Pat's no-nonsense approach to life and humorous self-deprecating asides. As the daughter of a teacher, I found that their interactions and preoccupations evoked a sense of nostalgia for listening to my mother and her colleagues-friends chatter during quilting nights. While on the whole A Spoonful Of Murder is a light and entertaining read, the issues around financial abuse of the elderly are very real and disturbing. From an interview with the author that was placed at the conclusion of the audiobook edition, it transpires that J.M. Hall had to confront many similar issues during his own father's battle with dementia. He's drawn on those experiences to create a very engaging but cautionary tale for those entering their so-called "golden years" and the friends and family members who care for them. I loved the sense of setting in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, and the very distinctive usage and vernacular in the character's dialogue. The Thirsk Garden Centre and Coffee Shop is a real place, to which J.M. Hall pays homage in his acknowledgements. A Spoonful Of Murder is J.M. Hall's first novel, and is obviously based substantially around his own experiences. I'm pleased to see that a second novel (A Pen Dipped in Poison) is scheduled for release in early 2023 - I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! I'd enthusiastically recommend A Spoonful Of Murder to any lover of traditional-style character-based mysteries. Having enjoyed listening to an advance e-copy of the audiobook, I'll be purchasing a physical copy for my own collection and to share with friends. My thanks to the author (Jonathan) J.M. Hall, narrator Julie Hesmondhalgh, publisher Avon Books and NetGalleyUK for the opportunity to read and review this charming and enthralling story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Benice With a Book

    Described as a cozy British mystery, a spoon full of murder follows three retired female protagonists who take it upon themselves to find their late friends murderer after she dies under suspicious circumstances, while keeping their weekly Thursday catch up. They go on tiny adventures to find out more details leading them to solve more than one crime. “No moustaches, no peals of crackling laughter, just ordinary evil.”- J.M.Hall – A Spoon full of Murder The book is written in simple terms with a Described as a cozy British mystery, a spoon full of murder follows three retired female protagonists who take it upon themselves to find their late friends murderer after she dies under suspicious circumstances, while keeping their weekly Thursday catch up. They go on tiny adventures to find out more details leading them to solve more than one crime. “No moustaches, no peals of crackling laughter, just ordinary evil.”- J.M.Hall – A Spoon full of Murder The book is written in simple terms with a gentle tone that is reminiscent of an older person. The story is clearly well thought out with lots of characters to keep track of and plenty of subplots to keep the reader engaged. It is however an excessively slow read that at some point felt like work to get through.I am sure that this book would appeal to those currently in retirement or very close to it, since it does feel like an older lady telling a story that could have been told in 5 min. “Why oh why did life’s important encounters always happen when one needed the loo? -J.M. Hall – A Spoon full of Murder But it’s not all slow and tedious, there is some commentary on the social issues of elderly abuse and manipulation that was very impactful which made me want to give my grandma a call. There are also a few interesting details to the story from male strippers to cougars, no not the animal rather the classic older ladies that fancy young boys. Subtle humour brings some charm to the story as well as interesting observations on human nature. While Hall tries to make the reader doubt the initial, obvious hints of who the killer is, it comes as no surprise at the end of the story when the killer is finally revealed. “When it comes down to it did anyone have an ordinary life?”- J.M. Hall –A Spoon full of Murder It is not that I disliked the book or how it was written, unfortunately it just did not grip me as a mystery should. Thank you NetGalley and Avon books UK for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    A Spoonful of Murder is a perfect book for me. Not only am I a retired educator who meets with colleagues regularly over coffee or a meal, but I am a huge cozy mystery fan. As the story starts, we meet Liz, Pat and Thelma, retired teachers and former colleagues of St. Barnabus’s Primary School. They meet up each week to gossip and catch up with each other. One week they bump into Topsy, another ex-colleague, and her daughter Kelly Anne. Topsy is in the early stages of dementia and KellyAnne is h A Spoonful of Murder is a perfect book for me. Not only am I a retired educator who meets with colleagues regularly over coffee or a meal, but I am a huge cozy mystery fan. As the story starts, we meet Liz, Pat and Thelma, retired teachers and former colleagues of St. Barnabus’s Primary School. They meet up each week to gossip and catch up with each other. One week they bump into Topsy, another ex-colleague, and her daughter Kelly Anne. Topsy is in the early stages of dementia and KellyAnne is her caregiver. While the friends chat with Topsy, they sense that there is something not quite right, especially when Topsy shares some disturbing facts. Within a short period of time, KellyAnne shares that her mother has been the victim of financial fraud and has lost all her life savings. When Topsy is found dead in her home the following week Liz, Pat and Thelma suspect that there might be more to her death than meets the eye. Even though her death is ruled accidental, the ladies are sure there is more going on and they nose around and ask questions. Does the fraud have anything to do with the death or possible murder? I enjoyed meeting these three ladies. They had a great friendship, yet were very different from one another. I liked how they complemented each other and worked together to figure out what happened to Topsy and with the fraud. Of course, being retired teachers, they knew a lot of people and were observant as well as good at solving puzzles. There was also lots of humor, tongue in cheek and some sarcasm that kept me chuckling. I thought I had a few things figured out, but with so many possible suspects and clues that led me down various paths, I was only partially correct. While the mystery and the ladies antics were somewhat humorous, there are some serious issues dealt with in this story. Issues that elders will deal with such as, treatment of frail persons, possibility of dementia and the issues surrounding care, the vulnerability of older persons to be taken advantage of by scammers (not just bank fraud, but charging for jobs not needed or not completed), banks who don't want to help and those who have no children to help them. Overall, this was a fun cozy mystery with some serious thing to think about after you close the cover. I did a read/listen with this book and must say that I really enjoyed the narration by Julie Hesmondhalgh. She gave the characters great voice, emotion and expression. I felt like the ladies were telling me this story while sitting at the local coffee shop. I definitely recommend this story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    Honestly, cosy crime isn’t usually something I lean towards. With a notable exception of Richard Osman’s series, which is one of my favourites. However, I tend to prefer my crime fiction on the dark and gruesome side and I’m always really happy to return to that, even after Osman. ‘A Spoonful of Murder‘ tempted me with its delightful cover and title. Luckily for me, the inside was just as delightful and I would quite happily read more of it. In ‘A Spoonful of Murder‘ we meet Liz, Pat and Thelma. Honestly, cosy crime isn’t usually something I lean towards. With a notable exception of Richard Osman’s series, which is one of my favourites. However, I tend to prefer my crime fiction on the dark and gruesome side and I’m always really happy to return to that, even after Osman. ‘A Spoonful of Murder‘ tempted me with its delightful cover and title. Luckily for me, the inside was just as delightful and I would quite happily read more of it. In ‘A Spoonful of Murder‘ we meet Liz, Pat and Thelma. Three retired schoolteachers who meet up with each other every Thursday (and there’s a completely believable reasoning behind why it has to be a Thursday) for cake, coffee and a chat about children and grandchildren. But then a former colleague is found dead and their weekly meetings turn a little something darker. Because Topsy may have died looking all peaceful and whatnot in her comfy chair, the three friends know deep down there’s a lot more to it than that. Now they just have to prove it. These three ladies will capture your heart from the very beginning. All three are very different but they also compliment each other, and their friendship just works. Often as I was reading, I was thinking about how much fun it would be to pull up a chair and join them at their table for a wee cup and a natter. Not that retirement sounds like a bed of roses. Pat knows there’s something troubling her youngest son Liam but can’t figure out what it is, for Liz it is her grandson who’s causing worry, and Thelma may be childless but she has things going on in her head that aren’t easy to deal with. Then Topsy dies and it’s not only the friends’ lives that are turned around because the story itself suddenly deals with a more complex societal issue with regards to the elderly and how they are taken advantage of. Especially those who are considered extremely frail, possibly suffering from dementia. Up pops an entire array of, quite frankly, despicable people who don’t even think twice in ripping off the vulnerable. This ranges from the builder who offers to do jobs that don’t need doing for a lot of money, to the seemingly helpful voice on the phone from “your bank” who wants to help move your hard-earned money, to tons and tons of junk mail promising all sorts of things. As Thelma often wonders, when there are no children, who will look after the senior citizen trying to navigate this minefield? Before you know it, your cosy crime story ends up being a lot more thought-provoking than you envisaged at the start. But it’s not all doom and gloom. ‘A Spoonful of Murder‘ is oftentimes fabulously witty and I absolutely adored these characters, who managed to make me chuckle out loud. Watching them being pushed out of their comfort zone was quite entertaining and I think the author really managed to portray it wasn’t always easy for them. Sure they want to find out the truth about what happened to Topsy but there’s also this reluctance, this feeling that maybe they shouldn’t be getting involved in things they know nothing about. I had a pretty good idea about what had happened to Topsy early on but there is something else surrounding the mystery of her death that left me with a list of suspects I was unable to narrow down. So, what started out as being completely bedazzled by a lovely cover actually ended up in a couple of hours of truly entertaining reading. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with these lovely ladies and if they were ever to set out on another murder investigation, I’d quite happily join them on that mission. Grab yourself a cup of tea and a nice, warm blanket because if cosy crime is your thing, I think you will enjoy ‘A Spoonful of Murder‘ too.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    Cozy mysteries featuring senior-citizen amateur sleuths seem to be all the rage these days. Despite my worries about whether this was just another leap onto the bandwagon, I decided to spend an Audible credit on this one. Our amateur sleuths in this case are three recently-retired elementary school teachers: Liz, Thelma and Pat. They meet up every Thursday for coffee at the garden center of their Yorkshire home town, Thirsk. On one Thursday, they run into their former colleague, Topsy, escorted b Cozy mysteries featuring senior-citizen amateur sleuths seem to be all the rage these days. Despite my worries about whether this was just another leap onto the bandwagon, I decided to spend an Audible credit on this one. Our amateur sleuths in this case are three recently-retired elementary school teachers: Liz, Thelma and Pat. They meet up every Thursday for coffee at the garden center of their Yorkshire home town, Thirsk. On one Thursday, they run into their former colleague, Topsy, escorted by her daughter, Kelly Anne. The three are shocked and saddened to see that Topsy is beginning to be affected by dementia. They decide to visit Topsy at home soon after and find that things aren’t as they should be. There are heaps of junk catalogs geared toward seniors, scammy-looking mail solicitations and a dubious-looking contractor demanding money. When Topsy dies in her sleep after supposedly mistakenly taking too much of her heart medication, the three learn troubling facts about a number of people connected to Topsy that make them suspicious that Topsy may have been murdered and, even if not, was being victimized and by possibly more than one person. They decide to investigate. As each member of the trio investigates, they also deal with real life, like managing their households, dealing with grandchildren and a troubled teenage son. Elements of their everyday lives and their life experiences as schoolteachers often inform their thoughts about what happened to Topsy. At the close, several threads are resolved and life goes on in this northern town. The story was a little slow starting, and I had trouble sometimes keeping the individual identities of our three sleuths straight. But it was easy to become immersed in the story because of the descriptions of everyday lives, the Yorkshire surroundings, and the realistic treatment of the problems of aging, including relentless scams targeting the elderly. Once I got past that slow-ish start, I was engrossed and very much enjoyed the story. I think that teachers might particularly like this book. I listened to the audiobook and, while I could follow it after a couple of minutes getting used to the reader’s Yorkshire accent, anybody who has problems with accents should think twice before trying this in audiobook form. I also wished after the fact that I’d read it in print form just because the plot has some complexity and twists and turns, and I would have like to go back and re-read some bits. This is J. M. Hall’s debut book. I’ll definitely be looking out for any new books by Hall.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Whispering Stories

    The title says it all! Along with the opening line “to be involved in anything like murder quite simple it was something they would never set out to do!! I knew then it was going to be a really good read. The three retired ladies, Thelma, Pat, and Liz, who all taught at the same Primary school together, met weekly for a coffee and chat. One week they saw an ex-colleague and friend who appeared to be in trouble and set them on the path of trying to find out what was going on, especially when she w The title says it all! Along with the opening line “to be involved in anything like murder quite simple it was something they would never set out to do!! I knew then it was going to be a really good read. The three retired ladies, Thelma, Pat, and Liz, who all taught at the same Primary school together, met weekly for a coffee and chat. One week they saw an ex-colleague and friend who appeared to be in trouble and set them on the path of trying to find out what was going on, especially when she was found dead the following week. I really loved this book, it’s was so well-written, with good use of language, and a smattering of humour. I smiled at some of the names that were used, like ‘Mandy Pinder-that-was’ for an ex-pupil from their school and a son’s girlfriend the ‘Celtic Poet’. Just two examples that made this book stand out to me. The three friends have to be my favourite characters, they were very different from one another but came together to see their sleuthing through and get justice for their friend. I also have this lovely picture of Ness the older woman chasing young Jake! A Spoonful of Murder was a very easy read and felt like a modern-day Agatha Christie. I could not put the book down. It has a good mixture of humour, sadness, and mystery which kept my interest throughout and I didn’t want it to end. Well done J.M. Hall for an excellent read, I shall definitely be recommending this delightful and interesting book to my family and friends.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nisha Joshi

    After the super-interesting The Thursday Murder Club whetted my appetite for senior sleuths, I was constantly on the lookout for such stories. With their wit and wisdom, these seniors do things even I couldn't dream of, often reminding me of my beloved Miss Marple. Then I came across this book and was instantly hooked! It ticked all the correct boxes even though it was a tad (okay, a lot) longer than my usual audiobooks. The story follows Thelma, Liz, and Pat, three retired teachers who meet every After the super-interesting The Thursday Murder Club whetted my appetite for senior sleuths, I was constantly on the lookout for such stories. With their wit and wisdom, these seniors do things even I couldn't dream of, often reminding me of my beloved Miss Marple. Then I came across this book and was instantly hooked! It ticked all the correct boxes even though it was a tad (okay, a lot) longer than my usual audiobooks. The story follows Thelma, Liz, and Pat, three retired teachers who meet every week at the Thirsk Garden Cafe. On one such Thursday, they meet an old colleague of theirs, Topsy Joy with her daughter, Kelly Anne. Over coffee and cakes, they discover that Topsy is showing signs of dementia. Some things she says do not sit right with them. They also realize that Kelly Anne is her sole caretaker now and she is having a difficult time. Just as they make up their minds to visit Topsy more often, the news of her death hits them. But was it a natural death? The police certainly seem to think so. Then why does the trio feel so uneasy? The book had touches of humour in all the right places. Pat would wonder whether her son is having an affair with the Celtic poet right in the middle of cooking dinner and worrying about Topsy. It was all very natural. The audiobook was excellent. It took me some time to get used to the accent but once I did, it was all breezy. The book has a lot of characters and subplots and false clues, but the author has tied them all up in the end. I felt the book was a bit too long, but the ending was worth it. The interview with the author at the end is wonderful as well (I love these little snippets into their lives - not that I am a stalker or anything. Just saying). 4 stars. Thanks to Netgalley, J.M. Hall, and HarperCollins UK Audio for the audio ARC.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Terri (BooklyMatters)

    ** Four and a half stars ** Set in the charming village of Thirsk, Yorkshire , when three retired primary school teachers, (Thelma, Pat and Liz), are faced with the suspicious death of a friend, Topsy, they reluctantly take up the task of uncovering the “ordinary evil” lurking beneath the unassuming facade of their quiet and comfortable neighborhood. Written by a first-time (and ex-teacher) author, the friendship of the three main protagonists, built upon a shared history of tea, support and compa ** Four and a half stars ** Set in the charming village of Thirsk, Yorkshire , when three retired primary school teachers, (Thelma, Pat and Liz), are faced with the suspicious death of a friend, Topsy, they reluctantly take up the task of uncovering the “ordinary evil” lurking beneath the unassuming facade of their quiet and comfortable neighborhood. Written by a first-time (and ex-teacher) author, the friendship of the three main protagonists, built upon a shared history of tea, support and companionship nurtured on the worn chairs of their former staff room, is steeped with authenticity. How the male author manages to also nail the middle-aged female psyche is truly a marvel, with each of the three characters so well-crafted you would swear you have met them. Thelma, the unofficial leader, outwardly strong and practical, can always “find the exact words the other two are fumbling for”. Childless, and married to a college professor, Teddy, Thelma fills her days with charity work - hiding a heartbreaking secret and a inner core as vulnerable and uncertain as her more emotive friends. Pat, bright and attractive, the wife of Rod, (a builder), worries about her youngest, teenage son, Liam, the bodily trials of aging, and a generation raised in a world where the internet in all its trappings can clearly be seen to “sap the soul”. Liz, a seasoned gardener, anxious grandmother to Jacob, life-long worrier with a sweet and sensitive conscience, is the heart-and-soul of the group, most likely to be on hand when someone is needed “to dispense tissues, wipes, and make gentle conversation”. The plot is cozy and tricky, with just the right blend of “Miss Marple”, interesting and quirky characters, secrets, unexpected nuance, colorful cardigans, and of course, heaps of tea and warm companionship. I loved this book and look forward to reading more from this wonderful (and talented) new author. A great big thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christie Guillory

    A Spoonful of Murder is a cozy mystery centered around a group of retired teachers who meet weekly to visit. When a former coworker is found dead, confusion and suspicions arise within the circle of friends. Although I enjoyed the book, it starts off slow and remains a tad slow throughout. Alzheimer's is discussed so readers sensitive to this topic should be aware. I recommend this book if you like cozy reads in general. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts A Spoonful of Murder is a cozy mystery centered around a group of retired teachers who meet weekly to visit. When a former coworker is found dead, confusion and suspicions arise within the circle of friends. Although I enjoyed the book, it starts off slow and remains a tad slow throughout. Alzheimer's is discussed so readers sensitive to this topic should be aware. I recommend this book if you like cozy reads in general. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    When an elderly former colleague suffering from dementia dies, it all seems perfectly understandable that she would have mixed up her pills’ dosages and overdosed. Retired teachers and friends Thelma, Liz and Pam are saddened by Topsy’s death, and would never have thought anything was off about the situation, but a word here and there sets each off into asking questions and poking at situations to find out whether Topsy really did accidentally overdose or was murdered. The story takes a while to When an elderly former colleague suffering from dementia dies, it all seems perfectly understandable that she would have mixed up her pills’ dosages and overdosed. Retired teachers and friends Thelma, Liz and Pam are saddened by Topsy’s death, and would never have thought anything was off about the situation, but a word here and there sets each off into asking questions and poking at situations to find out whether Topsy really did accidentally overdose or was murdered. The story takes a while to get going, with the author giving us time to get to know Thelma, Pat and Liz and their personalities, insecurities and family concerns. Thelma becomes concerned about one of her former pupils experiencing money problems, Pat is worried about her weight and her son and some unknown “internet problems”, while Liz is worried about her grandson’s tantrums in a highly regarded school. Also, Topsy’s death exposes a series of schemes targeting seniors, which has all three of the friends understandably upset. Though fairly slow-moving, I did enjoy this mystery, watching the trio puzzle their way to the not-that-hard to figure out solution. It was also interesting how the author wove in so many issues into the story: caring for an ailing parent, people committing theft and fraud against seniors, broken families, financial woes, and intergenerational problems. There must be a thing now with older amateur sleuth stories, as I’ve read more than I had expected to recently. This trio muddled their way to the solution, and a resolution for their other personal cares, in a way that held my attention to the end, and has me looking forward to their next sleuthing adventure. Thank you to Netgalley and to Avon Books, UK for this ARC in exchange for my review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ellie (bookmadbarlow)

    If I was to sum this book up in one sentence I would explain it to be A cross between Thursday Murder Club and Elizabeth is Missing. It was in parts amusing and in others poignant as we hear about older widowers being taken advantage of for money. I enjoyed following Pat, Liz and Thelma as they meet for coffee to reminisce about their pasts as teachers and then as that escalates to trying to solve the potential murder of their friend Topsy. At times the threads all got a bit muddled for me as I lis If I was to sum this book up in one sentence I would explain it to be A cross between Thursday Murder Club and Elizabeth is Missing. It was in parts amusing and in others poignant as we hear about older widowers being taken advantage of for money. I enjoyed following Pat, Liz and Thelma as they meet for coffee to reminisce about their pasts as teachers and then as that escalates to trying to solve the potential murder of their friend Topsy. At times the threads all got a bit muddled for me as I listened to the audio, but I did like how everything came together in the end. I expected this to be light and breezy, but as mentioned before it was quite sad and anger inducing in places as Dementia is a big focus of the book. I thought it was treated with sensitivity throughout. A fun read with added depth.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michaela

    A Spoonful of Murder is a cosy mystery that involves retired teachers who decide to solve the mysterious death of one of their colleagues who died from "muddling with her medication" - or not. Though it fits the "cosy" genre on the whole, there´s also much discussion of dementia - so beware if you´re sensitive on this theme. The story was rather slow in my opinion and had too many red herrings in it that led to different people involved in the murder. Thanks to Avon Books UK and Netgalley for an A Spoonful of Murder is a cosy mystery that involves retired teachers who decide to solve the mysterious death of one of their colleagues who died from "muddling with her medication" - or not. Though it fits the "cosy" genre on the whole, there´s also much discussion of dementia - so beware if you´re sensitive on this theme. The story was rather slow in my opinion and had too many red herrings in it that led to different people involved in the murder. Thanks to Avon Books UK and Netgalley for an ARC ebook in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    The Sassy Bookworm

    ⭐⭐ -- Cute cover on this one! I wanted to enjoy this one more than I did. I loved the setting, but the story itself just plodding along and I found it confusing to keep all the characters straight. They all can't be winners, right? 🤷🏻‍♀️ **ARC Via NetGalley** ⭐⭐ -- Cute cover on this one! I wanted to enjoy this one more than I did. I loved the setting, but the story itself just plodding along and I found it confusing to keep all the characters straight. They all can't be winners, right? 🤷🏻‍♀️ **ARC Via NetGalley**

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Michelle

    This book was such a cosy, immersive murder mystery with major Thursday Murder Club vibes. From the get go, it drew its hooks in and I couldn’t wait to keep reading on to see what would happen. It follows a close group of ex-teachers who are thrust into a murder mystery when one of their friends meets an untimely end. With the victim in the early stages of dementia, it looks like an accident with no foul play speculated. But it’s a good thing the group doesn’t take that at face value… I also lov This book was such a cosy, immersive murder mystery with major Thursday Murder Club vibes. From the get go, it drew its hooks in and I couldn’t wait to keep reading on to see what would happen. It follows a close group of ex-teachers who are thrust into a murder mystery when one of their friends meets an untimely end. With the victim in the early stages of dementia, it looks like an accident with no foul play speculated. But it’s a good thing the group doesn’t take that at face value… I also loved the narrator who voiced this book and it really brought it to life. It was performed so well and was really done brilliantly. There’s plenty of red herrings and twists and turns and just when you think it’s all over, it’s not. 3/4 of the way through the book I thought it had finished and was surprised when there was a fair but more of the book to go! But I enjoyed loosing myself into this book and it was certainly entertaining. Thank you to the author and publishers via NetGalley for this book in return for my honest thoughts and review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    StrictlySue

    A treat of a read! J M Hall has written a fabulous, cozy, mystery story. When three retired school teachers bump into an ex colleague, Topsy, and her daughter, KellyAnne, during their weekly coffee and catch up at the local garden centre, a chain of events is started that ends up with Thelma, Liz and Pat investigating Topsy’s unexpected death…….. was it an accident? Was it murder? And if it was murder, who is the murderer? Along the way the trio uncover fraud, affairs, dodgy builders and family A treat of a read! J M Hall has written a fabulous, cozy, mystery story. When three retired school teachers bump into an ex colleague, Topsy, and her daughter, KellyAnne, during their weekly coffee and catch up at the local garden centre, a chain of events is started that ends up with Thelma, Liz and Pat investigating Topsy’s unexpected death…….. was it an accident? Was it murder? And if it was murder, who is the murderer? Along the way the trio uncover fraud, affairs, dodgy builders and family difficulties. A wonderful debut and I really hope that there is a second book for these fabulous ladies. Absolutely perfect for fans of Richard Osman! Highly recommended.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charley Greywolf

    When a retired teacher dies three of her retired teacher friends get wrapped up in the mystery, with family dramas and their own secrets to keep hidden this plot is thick with mysteries. Good story but can get confusing with which character is talking at times. I grew up in the U.K. and now live abroad but this book definitely took me back to the U.K. and felt like a nice stroll down a familiar path. It is missing some of the quirky charm of a cosy mystery with the plot being very slow at times When a retired teacher dies three of her retired teacher friends get wrapped up in the mystery, with family dramas and their own secrets to keep hidden this plot is thick with mysteries. Good story but can get confusing with which character is talking at times. I grew up in the U.K. and now live abroad but this book definitely took me back to the U.K. and felt like a nice stroll down a familiar path. It is missing some of the quirky charm of a cosy mystery with the plot being very slow at times though many mystery’s were solved with plenty of red herrings along the way.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fay Roberts

    Every week, Jan, Thelma and Liz, three retired primary school teachers, meet for coffee at the local garden centre (mainly because it has impressive toilets). Gossiping about family and their old days teaching it's a low stress hour out of their "busy" schedules. That is, until their old colleague Topsy Joy is sat at their table by her daughter Kellyanne. Topsy is clearly suffering from some form of memory related illness and it's clearly taking a toll on Kellyanne. Each of the women resent the Every week, Jan, Thelma and Liz, three retired primary school teachers, meet for coffee at the local garden centre (mainly because it has impressive toilets). Gossiping about family and their old days teaching it's a low stress hour out of their "busy" schedules. That is, until their old colleague Topsy Joy is sat at their table by her daughter Kellyanne. Topsy is clearly suffering from some form of memory related illness and it's clearly taking a toll on Kellyanne. Each of the women resent the disruption to their routine, each of the women hopes fervently they wont be dragged into somebody else's life, each of the women find themselves unwillingly enmeshed in Topsy's afterlife when she dies days after the meeting. Something about her passing isn't setting right with anyone and as the three retirees start looking into the life and death of Topsy Joy they find themselves embroiled in a modern day Miss Marple mystery - very British, very low-key, absolutely no blood, guts or autopsies. A Spoonful of Murder as a story rings true. Jan, Liz and Thelma and their supporting cast of friends, family and suspects are all well drawn out. Motivations for the characters are all very understandable and the problems and issues faced by all the characters are relatable to modern readers. The book touches on some important issues to do with retirement such as fraudulent schemes that target the elderly, women's perception of themselves, and raising children in today's world. All the women seem to be different ages too and these are left unspecified - Jan has a teenager doing their A-levels still at home whereas Topsy has a thirty some year old, and Jan has a grandchild at primary school. A subplot deals with a younger female single mother of two so JM Hall has created a situation where there will be something for most women to relate to. The story is well plotted and well thought out. There are plenty of subplots and backstories that all get wrapped up before the "reveal" moment at the end. The actual culprit is quite obvious from the opening chapter but the devil is in the details and getting to the reveal is the most fun as the ladies trip around Yorkshire getting involved with male strippers and teenagers with a thing for older women. All the side trips do steer you away from initial assumptions time and time again though. This isn't a psychological drama so if you're looking for another Girl on the Train or Gone Girl this isn't it. The cover and the premise scream out that this is perfect for people who loved the Thursday Murder Club (but it doesn't have the absurd and glamourous aspects it had). It's a bit like reading a modern Miss Marple or if Midsomer Murders moved to Thirsk. It's simple prose and gentle telling make this is a great spring garden book - put down your secateurs, grab a brew and indulge in a chapter or two on the patio.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    Gosh, ever read the blurb of a book that sounds like you? I'm a retired primary teacher who dines with two ex-teacher friends, too! We three get together regularly, like the heroines in this tale So I just had to listen to it, I couldn't see how it could fail! So glad I decided to give this one a trial There are anecdotes throughout that made me smile! From rationing of laminating pouches to hoarding glue sticks, Inset dramas, pupil capers and lots more in the mix. It is also a cosy murder mystery and a Gosh, ever read the blurb of a book that sounds like you? I'm a retired primary teacher who dines with two ex-teacher friends, too! We three get together regularly, like the heroines in this tale So I just had to listen to it, I couldn't see how it could fail! So glad I decided to give this one a trial There are anecdotes throughout that made me smile! From rationing of laminating pouches to hoarding glue sticks, Inset dramas, pupil capers and lots more in the mix. It is also a cosy murder mystery and as it all unfolds Leaves clues and hints as events are told. With issues like dementia and different points of view This is an intriguing story I enjoyed listening to. I really enjoyed the narrator, she brought it to life Sharing all the memories, investigations and strife. Her accent was appropriate, clear and easy to listen to Making this an audiobook I highly recommend to you! For my complementary copy of this audiobook I say thank you I thoroughly enjoyed listening and this is my honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Heather Moll

    This cozy mystery was rough starting with three main characters all sharing the point of view. There was a lot of narrative in the beginning chapters and not much dialog to help keep the point of view straight, either. In an effort to get to know Liz, Thelma, and Pat, we follow them throughout their days as they work to solve the mysterious death of their former coworker with dementia. We hear their thoughts on their families and lives (often in distracting parenthesis) but these lengthy reflect This cozy mystery was rough starting with three main characters all sharing the point of view. There was a lot of narrative in the beginning chapters and not much dialog to help keep the point of view straight, either. In an effort to get to know Liz, Thelma, and Pat, we follow them throughout their days as they work to solve the mysterious death of their former coworker with dementia. We hear their thoughts on their families and lives (often in distracting parenthesis) but these lengthy reflections have nothing to do with solving the murder. It’s an attempt at character development that fell flat for me. Many unnecessary characters are mentioned and in a mystery there’s a difference between a red herring and crowding the story. An ordinary evil would have been a fitting title and there was a good story underneath the slow pace and the rambling thoughts. Once we were halfway in, the pace picked up and the threads tied together. There are heavy overarching themes in this cozy: dementia, elder care, parenting, childlessness, aging, friendships. The setting, a northern England village, is well described, and witty and insightful lines are throughout, but they never shone through so many distractions. Side note: Liz’s grandson sounds autistic and the dismissive or frustrated mentions of his quest for fairness and need for routine and of his special interests and his behavior challenges infuriated me. Someone give Jacob a hug and fire his teacher. I received an ARC from NetGalley

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gail C.

    Money is missing from a woman’s account, quite a lot of money. Does that have anything to do with her death? After all, she was in the early stages of dementia, her daughter, who normally took care of her, was away for the weekend, and many senior citizens in the area had been targeted by a scam to get their money.The difference, none of them have died in the process. When her former colleagues, three retired teachers, learn of her death and the other problems she has been having, they become con Money is missing from a woman’s account, quite a lot of money. Does that have anything to do with her death? After all, she was in the early stages of dementia, her daughter, who normally took care of her, was away for the weekend, and many senior citizens in the area had been targeted by a scam to get their money.The difference, none of them have died in the process. When her former colleagues, three retired teachers, learn of her death and the other problems she has been having, they become concerned. However, they are regularly reassured by her daughter that she was constantly muddling her pills and her death is really just an unfortunate accident, one she brought about by taking the wrong pills. The police seem to be content with the explanation that all was just a mistake, and after doing some investigating, the death is declared an accident. Still, her friends are uneasy. There are too many other things that aren’t quite right. Who is the man in the older van who keeps hanging around her house? Why is the young man, a friend of the dead woman’s daughter and her friend, constantly hanging around her house? What part in all this did the bank clerk, a former student, play, if any? In addition to these questions, each of the friends has her own issues that range from needing to lose weight to remembering an old incident that could have resulted in terrible consequences, to dealing with a son who is withdrawn and moody and a grandson who is having trouble in school to name a few. All of this rolls together to create multiple questions that need to be answered, some of which are related to the main plot and some of which are not. The friends decide to investigate, but this investigation isn’t exactly a joint effort. Often, one of the friends goes off on her own, makes inquiries, and then comes back to the group to share her latest discovery. Some of these investigations are regarding the main issue of how their friend died, others are related to personal issues or issues that seem to pop up as they become more involved with individuals they meet in the course of their investigation. There is an over-arching plot of whether or not the friend was murdered and if so, by whom? There are multiple subplots that seem to take away from this question and serve to create a less than direct investigation. For this reason the plot seems somewhat uneven, as the story jumps from one issue, or one character to another. The overall plot is a good one, and provides a good mystery, although it may be too easily solved by the reader to be the only storyline in the book. The book might benefit from sticking with the main plot and the few sub-plots that are directly related to it rather than following the larger number of tangents included. In summary, Hall has done a credible job of presenting a mystery that has several interesting components. It would be a smoother read if the book were limited to these plot lines in the book. It’s possible these additional plot lines are Hall’s method of developing her characters, but there might be ways to do that without muddying the main plot and investigation. My thanks to Avon Books UK for an advance copy of this book for review. The opinions here are entirely my own.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Isabel

    Every Thursday retired schoolteachers Liz, Thelma and Pat meet for coffee and cake at their local garden centre. Which is where they bump into their ex-colleague Topsy. One week later Topsy is dead. They know there’s more to Topsy’s death than meets the eye but can they prove it? After all, retirement can be murder… • This was fantastic! It had everything you could ever want from a cosy murder mystery and was so enjoyable. I loved Liz, Thelma and Pat, and the balance between them investigating the Every Thursday retired schoolteachers Liz, Thelma and Pat meet for coffee and cake at their local garden centre. Which is where they bump into their ex-colleague Topsy. One week later Topsy is dead. They know there’s more to Topsy’s death than meets the eye but can they prove it? After all, retirement can be murder… • This was fantastic! It had everything you could ever want from a cosy murder mystery and was so enjoyable. I loved Liz, Thelma and Pat, and the balance between them investigating their friends death and seeing bits of their home life too. And I can honestly say I did not see the whodunnit coming - I was suspecting everyone else except theme Thank you to the publishers and author for my advanced copy of the book

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kiki Brosnan (Bookworm_KikiB)

    You will like this book if: retired old ladies not giving up on finding answers to a friend's passing sounds like a cozy read. Plot: During their weekly cafe visit, three retired school teachers bump into a former colleague, Topsy, who is now suffering from dementia. The following week when this former colleague passes away, the nosy retired women feel something's not quite right. They each explore a piece of the mystery as amateur sleuths and come together at the cafe with their findings. A mix You will like this book if: retired old ladies not giving up on finding answers to a friend's passing sounds like a cozy read. Plot: During their weekly cafe visit, three retired school teachers bump into a former colleague, Topsy, who is now suffering from dementia. The following week when this former colleague passes away, the nosy retired women feel something's not quite right. They each explore a piece of the mystery as amateur sleuths and come together at the cafe with their findings. A mix of heavy topics such as dementia, death, and money troubles paired with the comical stubbornness that only old, retired school teachers have, this mystery takes you on a journey to uncover the truth of Topsy’s demise. Characters: I adored reading a story with older, strong female characters. Pat, Liz, and Thelma are incredibly relatable, nosy, motherly figures who each bring something to the proverbial table. A few times, however, I found myself confused between characters or whose perspective was being shared. Setting: This story takes place in Thirsk, a small town in the UK. The gossipy feel with the descriptive text of weather and land place you right in this little town. Everyone most certainly thinks they know everyone’s business in this cozy mystery. I have never been outside of London, but I feel like I could have been one of the tourists in their favorite Thirsk coffee shop. I would have loved more description around the coffee shop itself given how often it appears in the story. Conflict/Resolution: Lots of red herrings, which were fun once a theory was crossed off the list. But some red herrings and character storylines at times seemed a little distracting to the main story. The final resolution was well explained, realistic, and tied loose ends in a bow. Writing: This has a fun writing style, I found myself reading it aloud at times as it has a nice sing-songy cadence. Lots of parentheticals, especially in the beginning, made this an extraordinarily difficult and slow read for me. Overall/Other notes: I almost felt like “ordinary evil” would have fit better as a title with “a spoonful of murder” being the series (yes, I want another!). I received an ARC from Avon Books UK via NetGalley.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lynn B

    I loved Julie Hesmondhalgh narrating this book It really added to the cosy crime aspect and the subtle humour present throughout which she brought through so well when reading. Also it gave a different slant I think to the voices I would have had in my own head reading the book. All the characters were so believable and certainly were in my experience true to type for their ages. It wasn't until the book ended that I realised the author was a man. The voices of the women were so well written he I loved Julie Hesmondhalgh narrating this book It really added to the cosy crime aspect and the subtle humour present throughout which she brought through so well when reading. Also it gave a different slant I think to the voices I would have had in my own head reading the book. All the characters were so believable and certainly were in my experience true to type for their ages. It wasn't until the book ended that I realised the author was a man. The voices of the women were so well written he has closely observed mannerisms and figures of speech. I found out at the end of the book that he is a primary school teacher and so he obviously drew a lot on that with the ladies all being retired teachers. The book also relates to dementia and scams against the elderly. Again so very well written and true to life. I've been to most of the towns described in the book and I really liked that I could visualise where they were. If I had one tiny criticism about the audio is that I kept getting confused with who was speaking out of the three ladies. The name was soon mentioned though and I was able to follow the story. I would sum up this book as Agatha Christie meets Victoria Wood. At the end of the audio the author read the acknowledgements and I really enjoyed this part and also the interview between him and the narrator. It brought so much more to the book and I hope other audios include something similar in the future. I'm giving this book 4 out of 5 stars and my thanks to netgalley for the ARC of the audio to review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kenna

    A Spoonful of Sugar centres on three retired Primary School teachers, Thelma, Pat and Liz, who meet weekly for a coffee and cake catch up at the Thirsk Garden Centre cafe. One week they bump into Topsy, a former colleague, and her daughter at the cafe. Thelma becomes concerned about Topsy after the chance meeting and one week later Topsy is found dead. The trio come together and investigate Topsy’s death, also uncovering how the vulnerabilities of the elderly are exploited. Thelma, Pat and Liz a A Spoonful of Sugar centres on three retired Primary School teachers, Thelma, Pat and Liz, who meet weekly for a coffee and cake catch up at the Thirsk Garden Centre cafe. One week they bump into Topsy, a former colleague, and her daughter at the cafe. Thelma becomes concerned about Topsy after the chance meeting and one week later Topsy is found dead. The trio come together and investigate Topsy’s death, also uncovering how the vulnerabilities of the elderly are exploited. Thelma, Pat and Liz are highly organised and motivated and more than capable amateur sleuths! It was lovely to have three women of a certain age taking centre stage and leading the investigation into Topsy’s untimely demise. The tone is quite cozy, full of Yorkshire warmth, humour and plain-speaking. The dialogue having echoes of Alan Bennett and certainly made me smile and laugh at times. Excellent narration by Julie Hesmondhalgh, who really made the book come alive. I absolutely loved this book and can't wait to read other books by JM Hall. Huge thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, HarperCollins UK Audio, for the audio ARC for a fair and honest review.

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