Title: A False Charity (Abbot Agency #1)
Author: Veronice Heley
Published on: 19 October 2022
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Newly widowed Bea Abbot must decide what to do with her late husband’s business – an agency that handles domestic crises. Carol, a client and a friend, comes to Bea asking her to help catch a charity foundation who cheated her not once but twice.
When their cheque bounced for the first time and Carol called them back, they apologized and sent the ‘right one.’ They also asked if she would be interested in another catering gig. The cheque was cleared a day before the second gig so Carol didn’t think much about it. But the cheque for second gig bounced and the phone number of the charity was no longer in service.
Max, Bea’s son, has hired a temp named Maggie. She dresses weird and her hair is a shade of bright pink. She overly fusses over Bea but acts very childish. Bea learns that Maggie has ‘adopted’ a “stray” – an eighteen year old boy named Oliver whom she found in the park.
Oliver is good with computers so Bea decides to take his help – to solve the case involving the false charity.
This book was first released in 2007 by Severn House. I have observed something from the re-releases of 2000s that I have read so far – the cozy mysteries do not have a ‘cozy feel’, and at times, objectifying or ill-treating women is swept under the rug. I do not mind the non-cozy part but the latter one, is a NO.
Halfway through this story, Maggie befriends a young handsome man (who is actually a member of the fake charity but Maggie and Bea don’t know that). She goes out with him that same night and gets date-raped. The next morning, Bea finds a bruised Maggie in her bedroom and asks if a condom was used. Maggie says yes so Bea is like, take a painkiller and everything will be alright. There are times when Bea feels Maggie’s trauma but then, Maggie is not her responsibility so why bother… I didn’t like Bea’s way of thinking. Have a heart, Bea.
There are two PoVs in this story- the fake charity members and their alleged crimes (including a murder or two by Noel- the guy whom Maggie met) and, Bea’s agency wanting to solve the fraud case.
Oh yes, there’s also a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law angle to the story – Bea’s daughter-in-law wants the London house for herself so that she can host parties. Bea’s son too thinks his mother should retire to the coast. He also believes she’s not capable of running the agency by herself. Seems like all the men in Bea’s life (including the ex-husband too) believe women are helpless creatures. Hmm!
I had trouble following the story. I don’t know if it was the writing or the above-mentioned niggles that made this book an annoying read. I didn’t like the characters either. So, I don’t see a point in following this series.