British minister’s wife Ellie Quicke (Murder in Time, 2014, etc.) struggles to keep her housekeeper safe from a religious cult.
Ellie’s beloved housekeeper, Rose, is clearly nearing the end of her life. Relieved of her duties, she sleeps most of the day in her comfortable room off Ellie’s kitchen. When Ellie goes to the U.S. with her husband, Thomas, who’s attending a conference, she needs a caregiver to keep Rose going in her absence. But Claire Bonner, who failed as a nanny for Ellie’s toddler granddaughter, is hardly any better with Rose. She restricts the frail housekeeper to a vegetarian diet, turns the heat in the house dangerously low, and spikes Rose’s food with something that makes her disoriented. Ellie comes back to find her furniture rearranged in accord with Claire’s peculiar religious beliefs. (All beds, for example, must face east.) Claire also has convinced Rose to make out a new will leaving the substantial fortune she inherited from her former employer, Ellie’s Aunt Drusilla, to the church of the Vision, run by the flamboyant Pastor Ambrose. Knowing that Drusilla also left a sizable sum to her niece, Ambrose is quick to put in an uninvited appearance at Ellie’s to tout the good works of the Vision and ask for a grant from her foundation to buy a house in Ealing. But no one is as quick as Ellie. Not only does she put the pastor out, she helps plainclothes officer Lesley Milburn connect the dots between the recent vanishing of Gail, a teenage neighbor of Claire’s, and the earlier case of Jenna, who left Claire’s former town of Perivale without a trace. When a third teenager vanishes, time is of the essence both for Rose and for Ellie.
Heley offers another solid outing for Ellie, who isn’t slowed down a bit by the passage of time.