Now that her two sons have followed her daughter Josie to school and her mother is helping on the home front, Lois Meade has time to look around her. Though she finds nothing more appealing in her tiny Midlands village of Tresham than her electrician husband Derek, the town of Long Farden, only six miles away, promises several cleaning jobs for Dr. and Mrs. Rix; retired law professor Malcolm Barrett and his wife Rachel; Rev. Peter White, a bachelor; and community nurse Gillian Surfleet, who lives next door to Rose Cottage, occupied by bossy Gloria Hathaway, a member of the parish council whose friendliest days are clearly behind her. At a town hall meeting, Gloria is taking her turn at making tea when a scream issuing from the kitchen announces that she’s been strangled to death. Having shown her interest in becoming a special Constable to Inspector Cowgill, Lois feels free to snoop in the various houses she’s cleaning, although Josie, at 14, is giving her a hard time with a much too mature interest in well-mannered older teenager Melvyn Hallhouse. As Gloria’s past affairs slowly but surely come to light, Lois realizes that her checkered career not only involves half of Long Farden but comes all too close to home for her self-anointed avenger. Only when angst from the past goes venomously to work in the present is the killer found.
First-class work in the English-village genre (The Neighbor’s Wife, not reviewed, etc.): cleverly plotted, with thoroughly believable characters, rising tension, and a smashing climax.