Returning to adult crime after many years, Heley introduces lovable widow Ellie Quicke in the first of what one can only hope will be a long series. Two days after the funeral of her husband, Frank, Ellie feels immobilized by grief. Then the respectable Mrs. Dawes rushes to Ellie's door to announce she's just discovered the body of a young man at the church altar. Ellie soon becomes involved in the mystery surrounding the victim's murder, the subsequent disappearance of his mother and the disturbing quarrels of the young couple next door. Simultaneously, she examines her own life and, with a new confidence and strength, is able to stand up to Frank's bullying aunt Drusilla and her own spoiled daughter, Diana. Life without Frank will not be as predictable and safe, but it will certainly be more exciting. Heley's keen observations and insights into her characters create a rich atmosphere of the social life in an English town where, as reflected in the inviting pastoral jacket illustration, folk work in the local charity shop, go to the greengrocers and stop for sausages and mash at the Sunflowers caf. Combining sparkling wit and humor (particularly regarding Ellie's first attempts to master the computer), quirky acts of fate and a dramatic ending, Heley provides all one needs for a satisfying read, except perhaps a cozy chair, a cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits. (Dec. 1) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.