Cover Image: A Pen Dipped in Poison

A Pen Dipped in Poison

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Member Reviews

Retired schoolteachers Liz, Pat and Thelma are great friends and I was looking forward to catching up with them in A Pen Dipped in Poison. This mystery finds them, trying to find out who is sending poison pen letters to their friends and neighbours. Along the way, secrets are revealed.

I really enjoyed A Spoonful of Murder, the first book in this series, but found myself somewhat disappointed in this one. The friendship between the women that I loved seems to be showing some cracks and they are drifting apart. Their family lives took up a lot of this book and it tended to drag for me. I also missed the humour that was present in the first book. Even the mystery didn't really pull me in.  I am hoping the next book in this series, if there is one, will go back to all the things that I loved about the first book.
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I absolutely loved this book, thank you NetGalley and Avon publishing for the opportunity to read an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Having previously enjoyed A Spoonful of Murder by J.M Hall I couldn’t wait to read more about the adventures of Liz, Pat and Thelma. As a teacher I really related to the school based themes and humour throughout. I have purchased both books for friends and family as gifts. I also recommended them to colleagues. These books are perfect light-hearted cosy crime stories. In book two the mystery solving trio are on the case of a poison pen writer. The plot is immersive and the characters delightful. An easy read which kept me guessing. I would highly recommend and cannot wait for book three.
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A really interesting, intriguing mystery set in and around a primary school. I could see and smell the school, so good were the descriptions and I loved the Pineapple maths teaching approach! Highly recommended.
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Excellent book I didn’t want it to end.

Great characters and the concept was clever.

It kept me guessing til the end, read if you like an old school mystery.
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I love a good cozy mystery and this was no exception.

The plot and pacing was so good in this one and I had no clue who the culprit was, which I really enjoyed. I hate books when it’s too obvious. 

not my favorite book, but I still enjoyed it.
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A Pen Dipped in Poison, J M Hall

Retired school teachers, Pat, Liz and Thelma get together to solve the latest mystery, where someone is sending vicious letters.

An easy to read, village mystery type of book.  Very similar to Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club.

Thank you to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for a copy of this book, I rate it 3 stars.
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I would recommend this book. It was abit slow at first but then about halfway through the pace picked up  and is as desperate to find out who it was. I really enjoyed reading this.
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An enjoyable cosy crime in the Agatha Christie mould, which along the way pulls no punches regarding the undesirable aspects of schools being run as businesses, in the modern way. Highly recommended.
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Brilliantly erotten but that had the best mix. Really enjoyed it and although my first of the author, will not be my last.
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3.5 stars.
Thelma, Liz and Pat are back in a new mystery set in the school they've all retired from. The school is now part of a group of schools purchased and managed by a trust. There have been changes, consequently, to the curriculums, and to the style of management. A new head teacher was appointed to run the three friends' former school, and both Thelma and Liz soon find out that there are issues there.

When Kayleigh Brittain, the new head teacher, receives the first of what will be a series of nasty letters targeting teachers at the school, Thelma thinks it’s an isolated and unpleasant incident. Then Liz finds out from Jan, a friend and teacher at the school, that Jan is struggling to meet Kayleigh's requirements for results in class. Then, not long after, nasty letters begin arriving at the school, causing much pain and a further decline in morale (after Brittain's appointment) amongst the recipients, and evoking Liz's concern. The others are not as close to the problem, so don't fully appreciate the severity of the situation, despite their concern, until two incidents cause the three to come together to investigate in earnest.

The culprit wasn't really that hard to fathom, particularly with some of the clues dropped midway through the book. The reveal was satisfying, nonetheless.

Unlike the previous book in the series, the three women have drifted a little apart, as they all have their own concerns and worries, and a certain reluctance to share these with the other two. Much of the book is spent describing the friends' too many home responsibilities and worries about their husbands and the men's jobs, so the book took longer to take off for me. It was good to understand how all the letter recipients were reacting, but I will admit that the book took a lot of time laying out the situation before the plot picked up its pace. 

And as the story is partly about the relationship amongst the friends, which was painfully strained for much of the book, this made this entry in the series somewhat less enjoyable read. That said, I still liked this book.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Avon Books UK for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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General Thoughts 🤔

I was looking forward to picking up with these characters again after reading the first book in this series last year (review here). Unfortunately, I just wasn’t as gripped and enchanted by the story and the characters this time around and I just couldn’t settle in to the book. This is the second book in a row now that has made me feel this way, so this could be very much be a “it’s not you it’s me” kind of situation, but that doesn’t take away the fact that this book just didn’t ding my dong.

Characters 👫👭👬

I fell in love with these characters the first time around and really warmed to them. I liked all of the women and admired them for different reasons, however I felt like I didn’t get to hear much of their personal lives in this book and therefore I struggled to re-connect with them. What I don’t think helped was that the crime the ladies were investigating wasn’t very thrilling or exciting to me, so I didn’t care enough about what they were going through trying to find out who was writing the poison pen letters.

Writing Style ✍️

I will make a point of noting that I think the fact that this author has a background of being a teacher helped to make the setting and feeling of the book feel authentic. The detail included about the running of a school and all the little mentions of various different learning techniques (Pineapple Maths springs to mind) took me back and did transport me to Primary School Days.

However, I think the mystery was lacking somewhat and therefore I just couldn’t engage as much as I wanted to. There was a lot of time that seemed to pass before the story started to unravel and gain some traction.

Conclusion & Scoring 🎖

I’m so sad that this book and I didn’t have a great time together. I loved the first book in this series, especially spending time with Liz, Pat and Thelma. The three ladies were the sweetest (and they were in the second) but I struggled to feed as endeared by them in this second book. The mystery wasn’t mystery enough for me and I lost interest quite early on in the story. I don’t think I’d give up completely on this crazy group of ladies and I’d still give another book in the series a chance if there was one. Unfortunately this time, I didn’t love this second instalment nearly as much as the first.
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I was absolutely honoured to be accepted to read this as an ARC on NetGalley.

The retired school teachers Thelma, Pat and Liz are once again caught up in scandal when poison pen letters start being circulated among friends and the small community in their Yorkshire village.

A well written lighthearted mystery whereby these teachers give this poison author a run and manage to solve it with many twists and turns.

I didn’t see the ending coming, I also didn’t feel as connected to the characters as I did in the first book. I also really missed the garden centre meetings which just I absolutely adored in the first book. 

I am excited to see what JM Hall puts out next for sure! Thank you @netgalley and @avonbooksuk for this ARC
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I enjoyed this book - as a teacher I like the school set up - it’s believable and well written. I also like the characters. I didn’t find it a quick read but I enjoyed it none the less - it didn’t drag and there were plenty of opportunities to be pulled in to making guesses and assumptions which I like.
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Thank you for my earc of this book. I ended up listening to the audio of this but really enjoyed this cosy mystery. I really enjoyed this book and think it would be a great holiday read
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First of all I just want to say thankyou to Avon books for such a great Suspenseful  book . 

Well we all know I love a cosy Mystery/ thriller so when this amazing book come up for review I jumped  at the chance .I'm so glad I did , I loved a Spoonful Of Murder.and loved it .this one was just as good if not better . I can say it didn't disappoint at all . 

The Plot well I thought I was going to guess who did what oh how wrong I was when I did find it was a jaw-dropper.  It really had my head in a spin in the best way tho as I needed more . It story definitely  pulled the carpet from under me .  
The story was very well paced not to fast and not to slow just right . 

As I also listen to the audio  which was narrated by Julie Hesmondhalgh  I thought she told the story perfectly she really gave every character  there own personality which I really loved . 

The characters  which was Liz , Pat and Thelme oh they was brilliant  even better than the first book ,and I enjoyed we was learning more about thier family .I really enjoyed how they all had there own lives but came together  like Charlie angels.  

If you love a cosy Mystery then this will be right up your street . 

I give this  thrilling book 4.5 stars 🌟
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Intriguing mystery with charismatic protagonists and a solid second book in the series.

I really enjoyed this cosy mystery set around anonymous "poison pen" letters. The setting is the school where retired teachers Pat, Liz and Thelma used to work, and where all three, for different reasons, are spending a lot of time. The three friends, who meet every week for tea and cake in the local garden centre, take on the job of solving the mystery.

I'm always interested in mysteries involving anonymous letters, and I really like Pat, Liz and Thelma. They each have a distinct personality and add something to the story, and I like how the author includes ongoing threads about their personal lives. It adds depth to the story.

I recommend this series to mystery fans who like their cosies with a slight bite. I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to the next one.

I'd like to thank the publishers and Netgalley for kindly providing me with an advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
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Sad to say, I've struggled with this sequel to Pat, Thelma and Liz's earlier adventures.  For me, there's just too much going on and I found it very difficult to remember who was who and what there problem was.  I felt that it needed tightening up in terms of both word count and pacing.  A good editor could have made all the difference.
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This is the second book in this series and we are on another adventure with the three retired dinner ladies. This isn't always the easiest story to follow as there are a lot, often too many, characters to get to know and it becomes confusing. However, saying that, it is a good story, a nice little cozy mystery and a good book to pass to escape with for a few hours. The main characters are well written and relatable.
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Unfortunately this book just didn't hold my interest.  There are too many characters that don't have a distinctive voice so it's confusing and hard to keep track of who's who. 

The plot doesn't seem to be moving anywhere and I'm finding myself falling asleep reading it

Sorry but this one is not for me
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I enjoyed the first book in this series but this one was a little boring for me. I liked the setting of the school and the premise of the nasty letters being anonymously sent to the teachers but it was quite slow and felt like it was repetitive in some parts with not much plot progression. It was nice to be back with the 3 main characters but unfortunately the story was too slow.
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