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The house-sitter murder mysteries in the Cotswolds…
What is the Thea Osborne series about?
Written by British crime novelist and journalist Rebecca Tope, The Thea Osborne mysteries are about house-sitting with a touch of murder.
The stories revolve around Thea Osborne—and her loyal spaniel Hepzie—who is working as a house-sitter in the Cotswolds (an area in south-central, West Midlands, and South West England).
With each new assignment, Thea hopes to have some luck, but dead bodies can’t get out of her way, so she has to investigate.
How to read the Thea Osborne Books in Order?
Every book in the Thea Osborne series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- A Cotswold Killing (2004)
- A Cotswold Ordeal (2005)
- Death in the Cotswolds (2006)
- A Cotswold Mystery (2007)
- Blood in the Cotswolds (2008)
- Slaughter in the Cotswolds (2009)
- Fear in the Cotswolds (2009)
- A Grave in the Cotswolds (2010)
- Deception in the Cotswolds (2011)
- Malice in the Cotswolds (2012)
- Shadows in the Cotswolds (2013)
- Trouble in the Cotswolds (2014)
- Revenge in the Cotswolds (2015)
- Guilt in the Cotswolds (2016)
- Peril in the Cotswolds (2017)
- Crisis in the Cotswolds (2018)
- Secrets in the Cotswolds (2019)
- A Cotswold Christmas Mystery (2020)
- Echoes in the Cotswolds (2021)
- Betrayal in the Cotswolds (2022)
- A Discovery in the Cotswolds (2023)
What is the plot of the Thea Osborne novels?
For more information about the books in the Thea Osborne series by Rebecca Tope, you’ll find below the official synopsis for all the books:
A Cotswold Killing – When recently widowed Thea Osborne arrives to house-sit for a local couple, her only fear is that three weeks there might prove a little dull. Her first night’s sleep at Brook View is broken by a piercing scream outside but she decides such things don’t require investigation in a sleepy place like this. At least not until a body turns up… In calling on her neighbors to get some answers, Thea uncovers more tragedy and intrigue than she thought possible behind the peaceful Gloucestershire village.
A Cotswold Ordeal – Thea Osborne and her spaniel Hepzibah embark on their second house-sitting commission with few worries. Despite her first disastrous venture, Thea is convinced that lightning will not strike twice and arrives at idyllic Frampton Mansell with renewed enthusiasm. However it seems she is jinxed: within days of her arrival, she finds a body hanging from the rafters of one of the barns. But was it suicide…or murder?
Death in the Cotswolds – With the autumn drawing in, preparations for Samhain, the pagan origin of Halloween, are well underway when Ariadne discovers a very tangible reminder of the season of death: a body laid out like a sacrificial victim on Notgrove Barrow. It soon becomes apparent that the cozy village has more than its share of secrets. But just how far will some go to keep them hidden?
A Cotswold Mystery – The Montgomerys have asked Thea Osborne to look after their house while they take a much-needed holiday. But trouble seems to follow Thea and when a body is discovered in the house next door, she finds herself in the midst of village secrets.
Blood in the Cotswolds – Thea Osborne and her faithful spaniel, Hepzie, have taken on a house-sitting assignment in the charming Cotswold village of Temple Guiting. But as always, an idyllic village can harbor a disquieting number of secrets and when a skeleton is discovered at the roots of an old beech tree, Thea is grateful for the presence of her partner DS Phil Hollis. There is no concrete evidence as to who the bones belonged to although it isn’t long before theories and rumors abound.
Slaughter in the Cotswolds – Once again, there’s death on her doorstep-Thea throws herself into house-sitting for Babs and Cedric Angell in Lower Slaughter following her beloved father’s death – anything to keep her busy and away from some of her rather difficult relatives. But when Thea’s prickly older sister turns up, after witnessing a horrific killing, the timeless tranquillity of Lower Slaughter vanishes.
Fear in the Cotswolds – With the summer lushness of the Cotswolds turned icy grey, Thea spends her first few days exploring the beautiful hamlet of Hampnett, meeting some of the locals. But then the weather turns extreme, and so do events. When she stumbles across a man lying dead in a snow-covered field, Thea finds herself once again at the heart of a mystery.
A Grave in the Cotswolds – Thea Osborne and her loyal spaniel Hepzie are still pursuing their occupation as house-sitters, despite the disastrous incidents of the past. At the moment they are staying in the late Greta Simmonds’ house, which is currently between ownership. But when a body is discovered in a nearby field, Thea finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation once again. After befriending undertaker Drew Slocombe, she soon finds she’s aligned herself with the police’s only suspect. Believing him to be innocent, Thea works together with Drew to clear his name, although it slowly dawns on them that in a village simmering with secrets, a means and a motive could be laid at anybody’s door.
Deception in the Cotswolds – Despite the ease with which Thea Osborne’s new job begins, looking after Harriet Young’s reptiles, she soon finds a dark side to the characters she encounters. From the elderly Donny Davis to the enigmatic figure of Edwina, it soon becomes clear Harriet’s beloved geckoes are not the only cold-blooded creatures at large in Cranham…
Malice in the Cotswolds – The isolated and somewhat unsettling village of Snowshill, has Thea Osborne on edge as soon as she arrives, and Hyacinth House – her new, rather cluttered home – does nothing to dispel such feelings. Soon enough, her intuition in this case proves to be right, and once again Thea becomes entangled in another horrifying murder.
Shadows in the Cotswolds – When Thea Osborne agrees at the last minute to house-sit for Oliver Meadows as a favor to her mother, she expects a few days of peace with her spaniel, Hepzie. But, as usual, Thea quickly finds herself at the center of a dark mystery when she discovers a dead body in the gardens of the house.
Trouble in the Cotswolds – Thea Osborne hopes to spend a quiet Christmas house sitting for the Shepherds in the picturesque Cotswold village of Stanton. Walks in the local countryside with the dogs and perhaps a meal in the pub are all the excitement she wants. When her arrival at the village coincides with the funeral of local businessman Douglas Callendar found electrocuted in his bath, Thea’s interest is piqued.
Revenge in the Cotswolds – Thea Osborne’s latest commission in the village of Daglingworth seems straightforward, with most of her time spent looking after an old corgi and a hibernating tortoise. Thea is ready for a relaxing if rather boring two weeks. Until, that is, a dead body is discovered in a nearby quarry . . .
Guilt in the Cotswolds – Thea Osborne’s latest house-sitting assignment is a little different from the rest. Along with her spaniel, Hepzie, Thea finds herself in the village of Chedworth. She is tasked with creating an inventory of Rita Wilshire’s possessions, requested by her son, Richard Wilshire, after moving her into a care home. All goes to plan until Thea and Drew Slocombe find Richard dead in a barn.
Peril in the Cotswolds – Thea Slocombe is trying to settle into normal family domestic life with Drew and his two children in Broad Campden. But any sense of cosy domesticity is shattered when Thea finds the body of a neighbor. No longer a house-sitter, Thea has no choice but to stay in the village and deal with whatever happens next, even when this risks damage to her marriage.
A Cotswold Casebook – A collection of twelve short stories. A suspicious funeral, a fatal encounter at a garden center of all places, and a country walk marred by the discovery of a hidden corpse, are just some of the perplexing situations with which Thea Osborne, her friends, and a further cast of characters must contend. In this expanded view of the world of her popular books, Tope reminds us that death and crime will visit even the most idyllic country villages.
Crisis in the Cotswolds – When a routine burial exposes the secrets of the deceased, Drew finds himself caught in the middle of a family feud, in which he feels he is on the wrong side, and Thea’s inquisitiveness and penchant for solving crimes draw her in too. With another crisis at Drew’s other business leaving him with a profound dilemma and Thea struggling against the charismatic charms of a new man, can their marriage survive this latest Cotswold drama?
Secrets in the Cotswolds – Thea accepts a commission to watch over a house in Barnsley. On her first day there, she rescues a fugitive woman she finds hiding under some bushes. The woman’s story is thin and incoherent, but Thea gives her sanctuary for the night only to find her dead the next morning. The police are impossibly busy with a big investigation into the trafficking of rare animals and Thea is effectively on her own, trying to make sense of the murder.
A Cotswold Christmas Mystery – It’s Christmas, and things are looking good at the Slocombe house. Thea’s daughter Jessica has come to stay, much to her stepdaughter Stephanie’s delight. But then things take a turn for the worse. A local family, the Frowses, finds themselves increasingly harassed by an aggressive landlord. When Beverley Frowse goes missing, Thea and Stephanie both feel they should do their best to help her husband and son to solve the mystery.
Echoes in the Cotswolds – As spring returns to the Cotswolds, so too does Thea Solocombe to house-sitting. She has agreed to look after Lucy Sinclair’s new home in Northleach while Lucy is away. Thea soon meets several of the locals and the neighbors who seem to irritate Lucy so much, and comes to the conclusion that Lucy is far from popular herself. When a man’s body is found in Northleach, Thea needs all her wits about her.
Betrayal in the Cotswolds – A handsome, if slightly shabby, stone house in Upper Oddington is home to Umberto Kingley as well as his three dogs and will be Thea Slocombe’s latest house-sitting assignment. Without even a local shop, Thea expects the location to be one of her quietest, until the serene atmosphere is shattered with a fatal hit-and-run. The ensuing high-profile police investigation plunges Thea deep into the victim’s complicated family dynamics and the rift that had already torn it apart. And she cannot help wondering if the reverberations of scandal have led to a deliberate and murderous assault.
A Discovery in the Cotswolds – Thea Osborne reconnects with her friend Emmy while on a visit to the church in Baunton, near Cirencester with her stepdaughter Stephanie. Emmy, now married to local farmer Nick Weaver, asks Thea to help them find their missing niece, Ginny. Before Thea can get started, she stumbles upon the recently-killed body of Alice, a woman they had briefly seen in Cirencester the day before. Stephanie concentrates on searching for Ginny via social media while Thea is diverted into helping the police with the murder investigation. It soon becomes clear that Nick might have a more sinister connection with both Ginny and Alice.
What should you read if you like the Thea Osborne novels?
If you like reading Rebecca Tope’s Thea Osborne stories, you may be interested in Agatha Raisin, Whitstable Pearl Mysteries, Mitchell and Markby .