Wealthy Marcia Tredgold and her daughter, Charlotte, want Bea Abbot to find them new staff to replace those who have left under a cloud. Bea discovers that all those dismissed were close to Marcia Tredgold, and senses that something is not right. Were they framed, and if so by whom – and why?
The hugely entertaining new Bea Abbot mystery has landed, and the surprises are coming thick and fast for Bea! In this book extract from the early pages, Bea thinks Marcia Tredgold wants her help to find new domestic staff, but a tête-à-tête in her garden reveals a shocking and unexpected twist . . .
Bea started up from her chair. The French windows had swung to but Mrs Tredgold had disappeared!
Had she fallen down the outside stairs into the garden?
Bea wrenched the doors open, and looked out.
One storey below and at the far end of the garden, Mrs Tredgold was sitting in the sun on the cast iron garden bench, communing with Bea’s long-haired black cat, Winston. They were sizing one another up, oblivious to the rest of the world.
Bea hurried down the staircase, holding onto the rail.
Mrs Tredgold looked up as Bea approached. ‘Such a pretty garden. Do forgive me, my dear. I wanted to speak to you without my daughter hearing. Bad things have been happening. Charlotte will tell you all about the cooks and cleaners who have come and gone. They all had glowing testimonials, but all left under a cloud. I want to talk to you about something else.’
For a moment Mrs Tredgold’s expression of determined – if not forced – geniality was missing. What seemed like panic looked out of her eyes . . . and then it was gone.
Bea was concerned. Was the woman putting on an act? And if so, why? Bea thought that Mrs Tredgold was something of an enigma. Was she just a delightful but semi-dotty old woman who had flashes of intelligence? Had she really engineered this tête-à-tête in the garden? And if so, how much notice should be taken of her ramblings . . . if they were indeed ramblings, and not acute judgements on her family and household?
Bea sensed trouble would accompany anything to do with the Tredgold’s and was disinclined to continued this conversation. She made a show of looking at her watch.
‘Well, if that’s all, I’d better go back up to speak to your daughter.’
‘Don’t be obtuse, young woman. I haven’t yet told you what I want you to do.’
Bea hadn’t been called a ‘young woman’ for many years. She blinked.
‘When I’m ready, I will leave you with my daughter who will instruct you as to finding replacements for the staff which have been found to be less than honest. I want you to find out who killed Mitzi and Poppy.’
Bea gaped. Who were Mitzi and Poppy? Mrs Tredgold’s daughters-in-law? Or possibly, grandchildren? ‘What happened to them? Weren’t the police involved?’
‘Don’t be stupid. Why would the police be involved in the death of my cats? Now, give me your arm and take me back upstairs. I’m not as young as I used to be, and I need my afternoon nap before I go to the dentist’s this afternoon.’
FALSE ACCOUNT is out now in the UK and is available from 1 April in the US. Read more here.