Highly recommended, without reservation
Veronica Heley has a unique – and beloved – voice in the world of British cosy mysteries, as well as Christian cosy mysteries, because she manages to blend the two without blemish to the other. Once again, her gift is apparent in False Wall, the 10th volume in the Abbot Agency Mysteries series.
The story, and the mystery, open with Bea’s garden wall suddenly collapsing, almost on Bea herself, as an amateur attacks the ivy that has covered the wall in his family’s garden. The disaster destroys Bea’s mature sycamore tree, the one that she has enjoyed gazing upon when perplexed, as well as the wall separating her back garden from the newly purchased home of her friend, and would-be fiancé, Leon Holland. The destruction then sets off an inexplicable hostility between the owners of the garden wall that fell, as well as equally inexplicable attacks on Bea and the Abbot Agency itself.
The reaction to each succeeding event falls fast and furiously, distracting Bea from her efforts to think things through and see what is really going on and why. And that’s no coincidence, but part of the plan to keep her off balance and unable to respond to the efforts to undermine not only her, but also Leon.
I love double entendres and puns, equally, so the title delighted me. It refers not only to the wall separating so many back gardens, but to the walls between Bea and Leon – the false walls that have kept Bea from accepting his many proposals of marriage – as well as to the walls between others. In fact, this is as much British cosy mystery as it is as novel about the relationships between families and friends, although the latter certainly serve to promote the former.
Like both of Mrs. Heley’s mystery series, these books are best read in order – because the relationships between the characters have as much to do with the mysteries as the mysteries themselves. The mysteries do stand on their own, but one would lose so much without understanding the growth and development of the relationships between the recurring characters in the Abbot Agency Mysteries, as well as the Ellie Quicke Mysteries.
I believe this book will appeal most to fans of clean, comfortably cosy mysteries who are not hostile to Christianity. As always, Mrs. Heley writes with a deft hand that makes the Christian fiction part merely a natural part of the stories’ backgrounds, and this is especially true with the Abbot Agency Mysteries, where Bea, a 60ish widow, is herself a fairly new Christian. Readers who are absolutely hostile to Christianity won’t like the book, because some of the characters, including Bea, are portrayed as the average practicing Christian. To all except those, this is a book I highly recommend. Personally, I couldn’t read it fast enough . . . and then I wanted to read it all over again.
I received an advanced reading copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a review reflecting my own, original and unbiased opinions. For what it’s worth, I have yet to read a book written by Veronica Heley that I did not absolutely love, and I bought most of them, regretting only that the exchange rate at the time made me buy them over a longer period than I would have preferred!
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