The Coniston CaseFebruary 21st.
A week since Valentine’s Day, when everything went so badly wrong for my boss, Persimmon Brown. (Simmy, we all call her, except for her mother.) She opened a flower shop in Windermere a year ago, nearly, and I started working there last summer. Anyway, she’s new to the area and doesn’t altogether understand the way things work up here in the North. She worries about all the wrong things, like weather and how to get hotels to promise to take fresh flowers every week. I tell her to think a bit more about herself, and what she’s planning to do for the rest of her life.

Well, Valentine’s was all about flowers, obviously, and poor Sim ran herself ragged, making up all those bunches of red roses and driving on icy roads to deliver them – and got precious little thanks for it, either. She’s ended up back at her parents’ place, just like she did at Christmas, where there was some trouble over an incident in Ambleside. This time it was Coniston, and I got involved in it – which I mainly don’t, despite hating to miss any of the excitement. There were a few very nasty moments, I can tell you, with people who ought to know better behaving appallingly. But then, there’s also a lot of grateful messages flying around as well, and a few surprising heroes coming out of it smelling of roses – except the roses they use these days don’t smell much at all.

Simmy’s Mum is a real character. It’s a sort of test I secretly put people through – whether or not they like her, and what that says about them. She’s big on breaking rules and saying exactly what she thinks and if she doesn’t want to go to a party, she says so right out, without inventing an excuse. She runs a Bed & Breakfast place on Lake Road, with Simmy’s dad, and gets loads of people staying, even though she lets them smoke, and bring their dogs, and she plays with their kids and doesn’t call them by their first names unless they insist. The parents, that is, not the kids. She calls it a home from home, with someone doing all the cooking and washing and not making them get up at any special time. The other B&B people in town really hate her.

So, today I’m going to drive Simmy back to her own house in Troutbeck, because she’s not ill, and not a child and she needs to get back on the horse, as they say. She’s hardly been into work all week, after what happened, but come Monday, she’s going to be fine. After all, I’ll be there to help her. And there’s not going to be any more trouble, after this. Now is there?

You can read more about Melanie in The Coniston Case, the third book in the “Lake District” mystery series, published by Allison & Busby. The first book in the series is The Windermere Witness.

Meet the author
Rebecca Tope lives on the border between England and Wales, and writes two series set in rural England. The first is the Thea Osborne Cotswolds stories, with twelve titles published so far. The other is the Lake District series, of which The Coniston Case is the third. All her titles are in print. Also available as an ebook is The Indifference Of Tumbleweed which is an historical novel set on The Oregon Trail in 1846.

Visit Rebecca at her website.

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