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FALSE CHARITY by Veronica Heley: Book Review

In the spirit of true confessions, I will say that I read the third book of this series first.  But I really hate to do that, so I went back to see if the first one, False Charity, was as good as its successor.  And it is!

Bea Abbott is newly widowed after a long second marriage.  She and her husband had run a very successful domestic agency dealing with clients who need cleaners, servants, helpers of all types.  But her husband had actually done most of the work, and Bea returned to London unsure of whether or not to try to run the agency.

Still in grief, she’s beset by other people’s problems. Her spoiled son from her first marriage, now married himself and a Member of Parliament (apparently you must always capitalize those words) would like her to close the agency and move out of her house so that he and his even more spoiled wife can move in; her close friend Coral is facing bankruptcy because she was conned by a pair of swindlers; two young people have moved into her house “temporarily,” but as they have no place else to go, Bea’s mothering instinct takes over and she can’t decide whether to make them leave or have them help her run the agency.

The main plot involves Bea, Coral, and the two young people trying to work out a scheme in which they can get Coral the money that is due her; it turns out that the con artists have bilked numerous other people with their bogus charity drives.

False Charity and the third novel in the series, False Step, are definitely “cozies,” although there is certainly action in each.  What’s most interesting is the character development I saw, although I did see it backwards–Bea developing a stronger sense of self and the two young people finding careers in the agency.   The only character who doesn’t seem to be maturing much is Bea’s son Max, as his mother has apparently always solved his problems for him.  Even in the third novel, she can’t seem to let him make his own bed and lie in it.  I did find that a bit hard to swallow, but perhaps Max will improve over time.  I found him to be a rather disagreeable character, but then I don’t have much patience for people who can’t take charge of their lives.

False Charity and False Step are definitely interesting additions to the “cozy” genre.  If that’s your cup of tea, as the Brits say, I think you’ll enjoy this series.

You can also learn more at Veronica Heley’s Web site.