The cryptic clue: A tea ladies mystery by Amanda Hampson

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The tea ladies are back in another cosy mystery set in Sydney in the mid 1960’s. Hazel, Betty and Irene are again plunged into danger and need all their wits to solve the cryptic clue that Irene’s husband has left her and to avert a disaster that involves national security. Will Irene and Co find the proceeds of the robbery before a crooked police detective? Will young Maude survive working as a housekeeper for Father Kelly and two unlikely Catholic brothers? And what is going on with the building of the new Sydney Opera House? And how long will the tea ladies survive with the threat of a CafeBar replacing them hanging over their heads?

Amanda Hampson immerses the reader in the 1960’s, a time of great social change. The mini dress is revolutionising the fashion industry, there are crooked coppers and the soaring sails of the Sydney Opera House are beginning to show up over the Harbour. It was fascinating to read about Utzon and his wonderful design, and fun to see Hazel having a little romance with a sound designer from Denmark, who is working on the acoustics for the Opera House. The plight of the tea ladies and the threat that the CafeBar was to their livelihoods also provided a fascinating view into the changing workplace of the 60’s. I held my breath as I wondered what would happen to Maude, only 18 years old, housekeeping at the Catholic Presbytery, something that would never happen in modern times.

There were many twists and turns to keep the interest alive and the descriptions of the differing characters of the tea ladies was delightful. Irene’s capers and dialogue kept a smile on my face while Betty proved that she could help the investigation. Hazel with her commonsense and calm was the glue that kept the teamwork of the tea ladies on task and it was great to see her recover from her disappointment with Bob.

The final denouement was unexpected and thrilling. Fans of the first book The tea ladies will not be disappointed and readers who fondly remember the 1960’s and enjoy a cosy mystery will be charmed by The cryptic clue.

Themes: Cosy mystery, Murder, Tea ladies, 1960's, Fashion, Sydney Opera House.

Pat Pledger