Retired headmistress Flora
Morgan lives in the beautiful village of Willowgrove in Kent
and has recently taken on a new job. She acts as the “designated
appropriate adult” for people with learning difficulties
who need help in certain situations. Autistic teenager Rosie
Trevor has been accused of murdering her mother but Flora
knows she is never violent – so who did kill her? The
police soon realize that Rosie lives in her own fantasy world
and are keen to accuse her, so Flora turns sleuth to find
out the real killer.
I have long been a keen reader of Ms Harrison’s Burren
mysteries so was keen to try this series debut. Setting it
in 1991 allows the author to have her protagonist solve her
village murder traditionally a la Miss Marple. It also allows
her to show the village as an idyllic place without modern
problems such as lack of shops, buses and work opportunities.
I don’t know enough about the subject to be able to
comment on how well portrayed Rosie’s mental condition
is; the police have their suspect and are reluctant to look
further. Rosie insists that she did it, then contradicts herself,
and Flora is desperate to present the police with the culprit
and thus seems to be the only person actually doing any detecting.
What follows is a portrait of a picturesque place that is
tranquil on the surface but has any number of problems seething
underneath. Flora also has an out of control Alsatian and
troubled teen son, while all the suspects are either friends,
former pupils or their families. The whole has a cozy ambience
with a fairly slow pace and lacks any real conflict, making
it an ideal beach read. I still prefer her Burren series with
its vibrant characters and hope that this more tepid offering
will liven up once it gets into its stride.