Threats at Three is the tenth Lois Meade cozy mystery written by Ann Purser. What exactly is a cozy mystery? In these types of mysteries, the crime solver is usually a woman who is an amateur sleuth. The main emphasis in such a mystery is on plot and character development.
The amateur sleuth in this series is Lois Meade. “New Brooms” is the cleaning business she owns in the village of Long Farnden. This business gives her the opportunity to overhear conversations and to do a bit of snooping that will help the police solve local crimes.
The village center hall is now 100 years old. Village councilors are discussing how to raise money to restore this beloved part of their village. But there is at least one resident who doesn't want the building restored - someone has already tried to burn it down.
Paula Hickson, a new resident in the village, is a young mother struggling to support her children. Her husband lost his job, became abusive and ran off. This left her as the only breadwinner in the household. The oldest of these children, Jack Jr., is causing her problems. He has a habit of staying out all night without letting his mother know where he is at, but now Jack is scared. There has been a man hanging around the schoolyard trying to sell him drugs. Jack's negative response to this guy doesn't discourage him one bit. He keeps after Jack. Then Jack disappears for a few days.
Did Jack just stay out again without informing his mother of his whereabouts? Or did someone kidnap him? Paula has a job with “New Brooms” and has identified the new gardener in the village as her delinquent husband. Was Jack taken by his father? After all, Mr. Hickson disappeared at the same time as Jack. Or was Jack taken by the mysterious unidentified drug dealer?
Then there is Mr. Froot, an unsavory businessman, who seems to have an unusual hold over those who are employed by him. What is going on? Kate Adstone, whose husband works for him, is determined that they not give in Froot's demands.
This author does an excellent job of developing each one of the characters. Try not to make too many assumptions when you are first introduced to them. As each character's strong points and shortcomings are revealed, they each turn into a real person. What seemed to be so simple at the beginning of the book becomes more and more complex as new layers of the mystery are uncovered.
If you love a great, well-written mystery, this book will not disappoint you. My copy of Threats at Three was sent to me, free of charge, by the management of BellaOnline. I have provided an Amazon link below if you wish to purchase a copy of this excellent British cozy.