Mrs B has seen me coming; is already standing in the porch, in fact, with last month’s library books neatly bagged up.
“How did you enjoy them?” I ask.
“Very good. I’ve given this one five stars.”
She’s talking about the Rebecca Tope – Slaughter in the Cotswolds. One of fourteen books in which our heroine, Thea Osborne, whilst house-sitting in a charming Cotswold village, finds herself inexplicably and unexpectedly involved in yet another grisly case of murder.
“You do wonder why people keep asking her to mind their houses, don’t you?” I say.
“Absolutely,” agrees Mrs B. “She’s a liability. I wouldn’t trust her an inch.”
“Me neither.” I proffer the bag full of this month’s books. “I’ve got you another one – Malice in the Cotswolds.”
“Oh good,” smiles Mrs B. “I’ll start it this afternoon.”
Next stop is Mrs C – not strictly on my round but I’m covering her delivery this month. She lives in a care home and it takes a little while to track down her room though a warren of corridors. She appears to be about a hundred and fifty and is blind, so it’s audio books.
“I’ve listened to the ones on the right,” she says, waving in the vague direction of the sideboard. “Can you put the new ones on the left? Is there any Charles Dickens?”
I root through the bag. “Yes, Great Expectations. Oh, and Oliver Twist.”
“Good,” she nods. “I don’t like these lovey-dovey ones. I want Charles Dickens – or a nice murder. Nothing soppy.” I bag up last month’s wistful looking heroines and it’s off to Mrs G.
There’s always a bit of a wait at Mrs G’s. She claims it’s because of the time it takes to come down on the stair lift and let us in.
But I know that, really and truly, we wait so that the multitude of china dolls who share her room can stop their evil machinations and rearrange themselves into a picture of innocence.
They watch us as we follow Mrs G up the stairs; they watch as we tick off last month’s books and they watch as I leave her with The Outcast Dead.
I expect they know whodunnit.
I expect it was them.