There is nothing like a cozy, and Ann Purser does a wonderful job of bringing rural England to life in her Lois Meade mysteries -- stories that bring out the charm (and annoyances) of village life in a captivatingly timeless way. As owner of New Brooms ("We sweep cleaner"), Lois Meade is privy to many a secret in Long Farnden, where she and her team of cleaners are in and out of people's houses and lives on a weekly basis. But the remote farmhouse of Cathanger Mill and its inhabitants are unknown to her, until Enid Abraham applies for a job with New Broom.
There's something strange about Enid. She mentions her reclusive mother and frail father but omits any mention of her elusive brother Edward, whom Lois soon learns is in some financial trouble and running from the police. Driving home one night, Lois thinks she sees a body by Cathanger Mill, yet the police can find nothing. Then a sullen au pair hysterically announces she saw a man kill the family pet; yet the carcass can't be found. And when Enid disappears, Lois can't believe that the woman simply walked away from her new job and her needy parents. Somewhere, lost among the bits and pieces of her life that Enid scattered so sparingly, must be some clues to what really happened. And Lois is determined to sweep away the cobwebs and apply enough elbow grease to set the truth shining clear. Sue Stone