ISBN #: 9780727885241
Severn House Publishing
$21.74 Amazon; $24.99 Kindle
October 1, 2015
Ellie is desperate to find someone to look after their elderly housekeeper, whose health is failing. But employing a carer found by Ellie's difficult daughter, Diana, proves to be a mixed blessing when Ellie returns from a trip to America to find that carer Claire has implemented a number of bizarre changes to the Quicke household routine.
Claire is heavily involved in 'the Vision', a local church with a charismatic, powerful pastor, who- seemingly coincidentally - is looking for Ellie for financial help in his current project, housing reformed addicts. But Ellie is suspicious - and more so, when details of Claire's chequered past comes to light. Can Ellie trust Claire and Pastor Ambrose?
Ellie investigates and doesn't like what she finds...
Although this book is extremely well written, I must inform you that Ellie is exactly the type of woman I don't like: a pushover. She returns from a trip to the United States to find her household changed. And not changed slightly, either: her furniture has been moved around; her food, coffee and tea has been thrown out, Rose, her elderly housekeeper, appears to be lethargic when returning from a visit to 'the Vision' with Claire, the new carer, her cleaning people have quit and been replaced with two women who refuse to listen to her and do whatever Claire has told them to do, and she discovers that people are coming the next day to paint the interior of her house green. And what does she do? Nothing! Unlike me, who would have thrown Claire out in the street immediately, she decides to keep her until a new carer is found. She even tolerates Claire allowing Pastor Ambrose into her house to try and change her mind. Why is beyond me. I would have called the police immediately and filed a restraining order against them both.
Having got that out of the way, I will continue on: when Ellie returns and finds all these disturbances, she speaks with her daughter Diana, who recommended Claire, and actually sort of shifted Claire over to her when she decided it just wouldn't work having her as a nanny. But what Diana didn't tell Ellie was that Claire was a person of interest in the disappearance of a young teenage girl. Even though Claire goes into histrionics whenever Ellie mentions sacking her, it also makes Ellie suspicious: what if there were other missing girls? Following her instincts, she asks her police officer friend Lesley to look into the matter for her. And what she finds doesn't make her happy.
With her husband Thomas still in the U.S., she must deal with Claire and the ever-present Pastor Ambrose on her own. Well, almost on her own, Mikey, the young son of an ex-employee, has for the most part been Rose's guardian angel while Ellie was gone. He has done his best, but is still a thirteen-year-old boy who had to pretty much sneak in under Claire's radar. And Ellie finds out that Ambrose has applied for monies under Ellie's trust to buy the home he rents for recovering addicts and the like, even crashing a meeting she was having with the other members of the trust. (We in the United States refer to it as a halfway house).
But when Lesley finds some disturbing information regarding Ellie's inquiry, it raises even more questions, and Lesley requests Ellie's help on the subject - which, Ellie being who she is, says no, waffles, and then agrees to help. What comes of it all is something even more sinister than even Ellie could imagine.
Now, after telling you my views on Ellie, and still giving this book four stars, that should also tell you that it is a very good book indeed. (I do not take ratings lightly, and will give no book a higher rating than it deserves). Even if you have not read any of the other Ellie Quicke books, you can start with this one, and then go back and read the others, as enough information is given that this can be read as a stand-alone. Recommended.