“‘There it is.’ Clive, still bent over the telescope, spoke so quietly that only Gary could hear. ‘About four metres in from the fence, on the bare branch just below the top.’ And then Gary was on to it and it was filling his scope. He could see the inside of the bill when it began to call and the colour of its eye. Mind-blowing. Only the sixth British record and it was here in Deepden. Worth falling out of bed at six in the morning and the tension of the drive. Around him other people had picked up his excitement and they were looking at it too. Then the bird disappeared behind the hedge again and they were all standing around grinning. Some people started wandering off, talking about bacon sandwiches and work. Clive remained focused, though, and when the bird reappeared, further away on a dead tree by the lane, he was the person to find it.” (p. 155)
“She sat over another coffee and made a list for the farm shop. She had planned the weekend meals already in her head. There was a cake of course, already baked and iced. It was a pity the three older children lived too far away to share it. For dinner tonight she’d made a daube of beef, rich and dark, slippery with olives and red wine. It stood in the pantry and needed only to be reheated. Now she changed her mind. It was too hot for beef. If Neil at the farm had a couple of chickens, she’d do that Spanish dish with quartered lemons and rosemary and garlic. It would be much lighter, beautifully aromatic and Mediterranean.” (p. 25)
“The cafe had set a garden table and chairs outside on the pavement. Any attempt to create a continental atmosphere was ruined by the smell of greasy burgers and stale cigarettes coming through the open door, but the pavement was in the shade now and they sat there anyway. Vera drank instant coffee, Clive a bottle of bright-orange fizzy pop.” (p. 252)
Tea and coffee are constantly consumed by all the characters, especially Vera as she visits one home after another looking for evidence or even slight clues about the crimes. In every household where she enters, Vera is offered tea, coffee, chocolate biscuits, cake, etc. She can be quite manipulative in using these opportunities to distract or otherwise affect her subjects. Two examples:
“When Peter came out from his office, Vera had her mouth full, and spattered crumbs over the table as she tried to speak. Felicity wanted to say to Peter: Don’t be taken in by this woman. She wants you to believe she’s a clown. She’s brighter than she looks. But she could tell that Peter had already dismissed her as a fool. As she choked and coughed and swilled tea, he raised his eyes to the ceiling. At last the pantomime was over and Vera began to speak.” (p. 125)
“Mrs Richardson appeared from the kitchen, a mug in each hand. Vera accepted hers, then tipped most of the contents into the compost of a sad umbrella plant when the woman went to get biscuits. Julie, staring at the blank television screen, didn’t notice. ‘A great cup of tea,’ Vera said, slurping the dregs. ‘Just what I needed.’” (p. 138).
I always look for food and drink in mystery stories. I'm glad to learn about another very popular author!
Catching up: a couple of books I read but never reviewed:
|The Sassoons: The Great Global Merchants |
and the Making of an Empire by Joseph Sassoon
Finished reading Nov. 26
|Shimura Trouble by Sujata Massey,|
latest in a mystery series I’ve been following.
Finished reading November 27