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AUNT DIMITY AND THE NEXT OF KIN
By Nancy Atherton
Viking, January 31, 2005 ($22.95)
Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel
Lori Shepherd has it all -- a loving and gainfully employed husband, adorable twins, irreplaceable nanny, lovely English cottage, and enough money to do whatever she wants. What she wants now is to ease her boredom by volunteering at Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford to spread a bit of good cheer to patients lacking in visitors. She quickly becomes attached to Elizabeth Beacham, a retired legal secretary whose only living relative, a brother, seems to be missing in action. Lori finds herself entertaining Elizabeth with stories about her life and the goings-on of her little village of Finch. When Lori learns that her new friend has suddenly passed away, she is devastated. When she receives a letter from the lady a few days later, forwarded by her solicitor, she is astounded. She realizes Miss Beacham, who'd shared little of her own life, was quite a complex and mysterious character.
Miss Beacham was not, as Lori had surmised, an impoverished gentlewoman, but a woman of enormous wealth. Lori, her friends and family, and people from Miss Beacham's neighborhood all receive legacies that change their lives in positive ways. Lori has qualms about the gifts, however, wondering just how a retired legal secretary could have become so wealthy. She wonders, too, about the message she is sure is hidden in clues left for her by the departed.
With help from a cast of characters including some of Miss Beacham's neighbors and Lori's chums from the homeless shelter she supports, and of course with a few helpful hints from Aunt Dimity, Lori tracks down Miss Beacham's next of kin and discovers the truth about her life.
This is Atherton at her coziest, no murder, no real suspense, just a gentle puzzle and a lot of charming English country life, with a dash of Oxford grit and grime. Fans of the series will not be disappointed.
We have reviews of two other Aunt Dimity books. If you would like to read those reviews please click on the title(s) below.
AUNT DIMITY: DETECTIVE (2003)
AUNT DIMITY: SNOWBOUND (2005)
Other titles in this series, available in paperback from Penguin, include:
AUNT DIMITY'S DEATH (1993) AUNT DIMITY AND THE DUKE (1995) AUNT DIMITY'S GOOD DEED (1998) AUNT DIMITY DIGS IN (1999) AUNT DIMITY'S CHRISTMAS (2000) AUNT DIMITY BEATS THE DEVIL (2001) AUNT DIMITY: DETECTIVE (2003) AUNT DIMITY TAKES A HOLIDAY (2004) AUNT DIMITY: SNOWBOUND (2005)
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