by Elizabeth Coleman
Publisher: Pantera Press 2024
A charming and cheeky murder mystery, perfect for fans of Phryne Fisher, The Thursday Murder Club and The Tea Ladies
PI Edwina ‘Ted’ Bristol’s latest case is proving complicated. Ballerina Giselle Tereiti is the target of a stalker, but she’s also the ex-wife of Ted’s new flame, homicide detective Spike. While the case is a win for Ted’s agency, it means she’s forced to distance herself from Spike.
As Ted goes undercover via the dating apps in pursuit of suspects, the stalker ups the ante with a disturbing break-in at Giselle’s home.
Meanwhile, talented crafter Cicely Bunting is desperate to locate her husband, Duncan, who disappeared while surfing a year ago. Cicely refuses to believe that he’s dead, and she’s counting on Ted to find him.
A dance with murder …
As Ted closes in on the stalking culprit and her relationship with Spike hits rock-bottom, Cicely’s case takes a bizarre twist – and then a murder turns everything upside down.
by Lesley Vick
This is the second book about well-intentioned, impetuous sleuth Edwina (Ted) Bristol who runs a private investigation agency. Accompanied by her delightful side kick, miniature schnauzer Miss Marple – an intelligent and loyal assistant – Ted is busy investigating a number of cases. There are professional and personal complications in Ted’s life which impact on her work, but she is always buoyed by the support not only of Miss Marple, but also her large, loving and boisterous family – numerous brothers and an older, much-loved sister, Bob. It is also fortunate that she has a tech savvy niece who helps with tricky internet searches.
Bob is involved in two of Ted’s investigations. Bob has purchased the shop next to her successful florist business in order to expand and the previous owner, Cicely, has hired Ted to find her husband whom she believes is still alive. He has been missing for a year, having possibly drowned at the notoriously dangerous Cheviot beach. At the same time, Bob, about whom Ted is very protective, has begun a new relationship and Ted is suspicious of the new man – especially given Bob’s poor track record in selecting boyfriends. This situation provokes Ted’s all too frequent impetuosity where she jumps to mistaken conclusions.
In another challenging case, Giselle has hired Ted to find a stalker who is leaving her disturbing notes. Giselle thinks it may be someone she has met on an online dating site. In some very funny encounters, Ted goes undercover to investigate the possible dating suspects who include an objectionable man who is very full of himself. To further complicate matters, Ted’s interaction with the police is already somewhat fraught because the police attitude is disparaging of women as private investigators and Ted – fiercely independent and a bit commitment phobic – is attracted to Spike (the ex-husband of Giselle!), one of the officers investigating one of her several cases. Also, the cops refuse to give her any credit for solving an earlier case when the publicity would have helped her business.
The Melbourne setting is convincing. Most of the characters live and work in the inner suburbs and their diverse range reflects this as well as modern concerns about environmental issues. They include a relevant witness, non-binary Kip, who is suspicious of the police, and First Nations woman, Aunty June, who is a surveillance agent. They both fit easily in the context.
The book has many engaging characters, good and bad. It is sometimes laugh out loud and entertaining and the solutions to the mysteries are satisfying.
A hanging thread at the end suggests there will be more cases for Ted to investigate and this would be very welcome.