They say, “Write what you know, ” so if you’re going to write a cozy crime novel about three retired school teachers, it probably helps to actually be a deputy head of a primary school!

And that is exactly what Jonathan Hall, aka J.M. Hall, does for a living outside of penning his wonderful new series of books.

If you love The Thursday Murder Club and the Marlow Murders then A Spoonful of Murder will be right up your street.

It is a quintessentially British mystery at its best, with a well-rounded plot, a Yorkshire setting, and three highly relatable friends who pop from the pages.

So, if you’re after a new series (there are three so far), you could do a lot worse than picking up (or downloading) this gem of a novel.

What’s It About?

Thelma, Liz and Pat are friends by virtue of the fact that they worked together as primary school teachers for decades.

Now retired, all three are in slightly different places in life. Pat still has her youngest, albeit teenage, son at home.

Thelma never had children and lives with her husband, while Liz looks after her grandson.

Life is relatively simple, and the three meet weekly at Thirsk Garden Centre for coffee and a catch-up.

Then, one day, Topsy Joy and her daughter Kelly-Anne walk in, and all five women’s lives change forever.

Topsy used to work with the ladies at the school but is now in the early stages of dementia and is mostly being cared for by her grown daughter.

In her confused state, she tells Thelma that she overheard somebody say that it would be easier if she were dead.

Thelma, clearly concerned, doesn’t quite know what to say or do, but the three women decide to keep an eye on Topsy and visit more regularly.

And then Topsy dies, having apparently mixed up her medication when her daughter was away for the weekend.

Was it a simple accident, or was it murder?

Is It Any Good?

There really is a lot to like about this book but first and foremost is the fact that these three women are very reluctant to get involved.

Unlike a lot of novels in the genre, Liz, Thelma, and Pat really do not want any part in trying to figure out what happened to Topsy.

But for the fact that she was their lifelong friend, they would have happily walked away when the police decided it was an accident.

It’s only a little twist but one that definitely makes the women more relatable as they try to put the pieces of what happened together.

On the side, they each have their own personal problems to deal with, and there are a couple of subplots that may or may not have something to do with Topsy’s death.

The writing flows well, there’s plenty of humour, and the plot is decent, so even if you guess whodunnit, it’s the ‘how’ that is puzzling.

So, overall, there is a lot going on and plenty to keep readers interested.

What I would say, though, is that the middle section lacks a bit of pace. Once the backstory is established and the crime has been committed, it meanders a little.

Thelma is the only one committed to finding out what happened to Topsy, and Liz and Pat’s uncertainty carries through almost to the end.

Until they are forced into a corner, they just amble along, and I wish J.M. Hall had given them a little more backbone.

I didn’t need them to be all gung-ho, but something other than blind panic and constant anxiety would have been good.

That said, they get there in the end, and I’m looking forward to the second book, especially to see if the ladies’ confidence has continued and grown.

Next Books

As mentioned above, A Spoonful of Murder, released in 2022, is the first book in the series.

That is followed by A Pen Dipped in Poison (2023) where Liz, Pat and Thelma have to work out who is sending their friends and neighbours letters revealing their deepest secrets.

And, third in the series, is A Clock Stops Dead (2024) where the three friends investigate just how exactly a charity shop has vanished into thin air.

The first two are available on Kindle Unlimited, and all are available in paperback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *