A Pen Dipped in Poison

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Buy on BN.com Buy on Bookshop.org
*This page contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 30 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 10 Apr 2023


Retired schoolteachers and amateur sleuths Liz, Pat and Thelma have a brand-new mystery to solve in this witty tale – perfect for fans of The Thursday Murder Club and Robert Thorogood

Curious white envelopes have been delivered to friends and neighbours. Inside are letters revealing the deepest secrets they have tried to hide.

As one by one, careers are ended, marriages destroyed and no one is beyond suspicion, the three friends decide enough is enough. They must take matters into their own hands before more damage is done.

But as they work to uncover the truth, they begin to wonder just how far someone will go to silence this poison pen…

Could a murderer be in their midst once again?

The second totally addictive and page-turning cosy mystery featuring these very unlikely sleuths. Fans of Agatha Christie and Midsomer Murders will be hooked from the very first page.

Readers love this book!:

‘A charming read with a cast of characters you’ll really connect with’ Faith Martin, author of A Fatal End

‘The ingredients for the perfect modern cosy crime: intrigue, characters you care about and a good dollop of humour' Ian Moore, author of Death and Croissants

‘As delightful as it is deadly, A Pen Dipped in Poison is a feel-good, fun and fabulous cosy mystery that had me utterly gripped from page one. J.M. Hall proves once again he's one of our very best cosy mystery writers. I absolutely loved it’ Jonathan Whitelaw, author of The Bingo Hall Detectives

‘A gently quirky cosy mystery with plenty of twists and turns, and an intriguing cast of characters – some endearing, some not so much!’ Fiona Leitch, author of The Cornish Wedding Murder

Malice and mayhem spur a school reunion of three modern Marples – and some of their Thirsk community learn a lesson they’ll never forget!’ Sarah Yarwood-Lovett, author of A Murder of Crows

‘The perfect page turning, guess-who cosy crime.’ Northern Life Magazine

This promises to be delightfully cosy crime.’ Daily Mail

‘This fun crime novel will have you hooked from the very first page.’ Woman’s Own

‘So brilliant… I loved this so much! Perfect cosy crime – I am a big fan of this author!’ NetGalley review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Three Miss Marples for the price of one! Extremely well-drawn characters… the plot is carefully assembled… the writing is so good… I loved this story!’ NetGalley review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘I could not put this book down! What a perfect book…! I loved the three main characters… I highly recommend.’ NetGalley review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘This book would make a great movie! The characters are likeable and quirky, the story moves quickly and this talented author leaves us wanting for more…!’ NetGalley review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Retired schoolteachers and amateur sleuths Liz, Pat and Thelma have a brand-new mystery to solve in this witty tale – perfect for fans of The Thursday Murder Club and Robert Thorogood...

Available Editions

ISBN 9780008509651
PRICE £1.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)
Download (EPUB)

Average rating from 126 members

Featured Reviews

This book was sent to me electronically by Netgalley for review. Thanks to the publisher and the author. Almost like Agatha Christie…who sent the letters? What will happen next? Who is guilty? This book would make a great movie. The characters are likable and quirky. The story moves quickly. This talented author leaves us waiting for more of the same. Enjoy.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this book. As a retired teacher I loved the three main characters, and the way academies are represented is absolutely fantastic! The way money is the priority not children, the constant use of improvements and beacon schools, new maths and writing initiatives, marks schemes, all are so accurately portrayed. In particular the ‘Children of the suits’! At one local MAT here, it looked like the senior staff had all gone shopping together to buy their matching blue suits and brown brogues. I sincerely hope there are many more books to come from Thelma, Pat and Liz.

Was this review helpful?

A cozy mystery book that does not disappoint and allows you to escape into the world of intrigue taking place at St Barnabus school, poison pen letters are being received by teachers with the new headmaster being the main target, can our trio of retired teachers discover the author of the hate filled missives

Second in the series and thank you to Netgalley and Avon for the ARC

Was this review helpful?

I loved the first book in this series so naturally I was very excited about the second one, and boy it didn’t disappoint in any way.

This time around I didn’t guess who was behind it all, and I did last time so I was expecting to be able to crack it! The plot and pacing were absolutely perfect in this one, and I was so happy that we got to learn more about the ladies’ families. I love books with multiple characters and surprises in it (and there were plenty in this one!).

If you’re looking for cozy mystery books then definitely pick up this series, you won’t be disappointed.

Thank you to Avon for sending me a proof of this incredible book, out in March.

Was this review helpful?

Loved this book so much , I loved the characters , the storyline made we not want to put the book down , looking to read more by this author just a great an easy read .

Was this review helpful?

Liz, Pat and Thelma have not seen much of each other as their lives have moved in different circles but as a reader of their first adventures it did not take long to get to know them again.

This story is about poison pen letters and slowly the goings on at their old workplace draw them together again.
Slowly and carefully and using their considerable network - my personal favourite is the nail bar they uncover many different nefarious activities and bring everything back to how it should be.

Great characters, great story.

Was this review helpful?

A return to Thirsk and the retired schoolteachers who somehow manage to get involved in another mystery. This time it revolves around mystery poison pen letters being sent to school staff.
Another thoroughly enjoyable mystery with well developed engaging characters and a plot that moves quickly keeping the reader engrossed and entertained.

Was this review helpful?

Thelma, Liz and Pat have a new mystery to solve. Poison pen letters are being sent to teachers and staff of St.Barnabus, the school where our heroines used to teach. The new headteacher seems to be targeted in particular.
This is a second book in a series and, while I very much enjoyed the first, this one I loved. The family relationships of the characters were developed so much more. The writing was significantly better here, the pacing too. I liked the plot, did not guess who the culprit was. And the whole book had this atmosphere of an immense love for schools and teaching. It had a lot to say about educational system, where nowadays it is way more about the business side of things and money and not about children. I especially loved the epilogue. The author has found his writing style and I hope we will have more books with these wonderful characters.
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

So brilliant! I went and bought the previous book to read as I loved this so much. Perfect cosy crime. I am a big fan now if this author and truly recommend the series.

Was this review helpful?

This is a fantastic read that I just could not put down. The writing is engaging and kept me hooked, the storyline is gripping and the charcters are well developed. I loved it,

Was this review helpful?

Review 🖋️
After reading and listening to the brilliant A Spoonful of Murder by J.M. Hall, I just had to request A Pen Dipped in Poison. Thankfully the publishers, Avon Books UK, have allowed me to read the next in the series, so I thank them for that. If you are a fan of the Richard Osman books, this should be the ideal book for you. It has all the ingredients necessary for an excellent little cosy mystery. Suspense, drama and skulduggery are woven into a great storyline which features retired schoolteachers Liz, Pat and Thelma as they embark on another adventure.
Sinister envelopes have been delivered to friends and neighbours of our intrepid trio. Inside are letters and secrets revealing the past that they have tried to hide. Careers are ended, marriages destroyed, and no one is beyond suspicion. Something sinister seems to be behind it all, and it may be closer to home than the trio think. The three friends decide to take matters into their own hands, despite the protestations of family members.
Their school, St Barnabus Primary, is not what it once was, as it is now part of Lodestone Academy Trust. As it is still close to their hearts, it does not stop Liz, Pat and Thelma from caring about what goes on there. St Barnabus is now run by the enigmatic, confident and influential headmistress Kayleigh Brittain. A forward-thinking individual with lofty plans for St Barnabus.
Masterful storytelling and delightfully retro-style detective ladies make A Pen Dipped in Poison an imaginative and eventful read. Think Miss Marple with attitude coupled with a strong sense of togetherness, probably just about sums up Liz, Pat and Thelma. Like Jane Marple, these characters though quirky and slightly twee can think outside the box and around corners. I guess that is what comes of them being retired school teachers.
It is a great story, with some subplots going on in the background. These tie neatly together at the end. The story gets the reader involved from the very outset. I enjoy how the trio develop their strategies and plan of attack whilst in the Thirsk Garden Centre coffee shop.
The language is realistic up to a point, mainly because you do not see that many profanities littered throughout the narrative, which I am pleased about. So, kudos to the author for that and for the various twists and misdirection’s scattered throughout the story.
What I found to my liking was the pace of the book. Never pedestrian or rushed, and neither was it overly elaborate. I more or less fathomed out the guilty party early on, but it did not play out precisely as I had imagined it would either, which I was more or less happy about.
A Pen Dipped in Poison is an uncomplicated but highly entertaining dramatic mystery with likeable, and dare I say at a pinch, loveable protagonists. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have no qualms whatsoever in recommending it.
Thank you so much, Avon Books UK, J.M. Hall and NetGalley, for allowing me to read this advanced copy.

Was this review helpful?

This is the second book by JM Hall to feature Thelma, Liz and Pat, friends who have all retired from working at their local primary school. Possibly because I have also just retired from teaching, I feel tremendous empathy towards these 3 women and the situation they encounter in a recently academised school. It is very obvious that the author is writing from personal experience when she describes the stresses that go along with teaching in schools where results are paramount and league tables surpass the need to make learning fun. This mystery surrounds a series of poison pen letters that arrive at the school, causing great distress to innocent staff and those with guilty consciences. Thelma, Pat and Liz all have their own family worries to deal with but can't help becoming involved with helping to right the wrongs at a school they know and love. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and its prequel both from the pleasure of solving the mystery but also from the many times I found myself nodding in agreement with the narrator. No less so than the last few lines which seemed to sum up the whole issue that schools face without being preachy or political. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery with strong, likeable protagonists and especially anyone who has ever worked in a school. It would make great Xmas reading or Xmas present.

Was this review helpful?

A cruel letter to the Headmistress is assumed to be a one-off, until a spate of others target random teachers. Who? Why? Those are the obvious questions but, as Pat reminds her friends, Liz and Thelma, the questions in the rhyme they all taught to their pupils also contains, How? Where? and When? Although less obvious, answering the last three will turn up the clues needed to solve the first three. “How” is easy, the letters are computer typed and printed on the school’s stationary; “Where” is also easy, they turn up in various locations within the school, “When” is more complicated, the first one was found during the setting up for the Summer Fayre, the last event of that academic year, all the rest turn up individually during the first term of the next academic year. The school, St Barnabus Primary, is now part of Lodestone Academy Trust, and is run by the new headmistress Kayleigh Brittain, designer clad, perfectly coiffed, powerfully efficient. Are the letters someone’s plan to disrupt the school and get her fired? The three retired friends start to investigate, despite the protestations of their husbands. Ron, Liz’s husband, recently recovered from cancer, is looking to retire having lost a contract linked to Lodestone; Derek, Pat’s husband, is a teacher at the “College for Vicars” which is possibly under threat of closure (by an organisation linked to Lodestone) ; Teddy, Thelma’s husband, is Head of that College. Could a scam of some kind be involved?
This is the author’s second book and I reviewed the first (A Spoonful of Murder) back in March. Much of what I said then is still apposite here so I’m largely repeating myself in this paragraph. If you have ever wondered what makes a cosy crime story, this is a quintessential example; plus you get three Miss Marples for the price of one. The three, Thelma, Liz and Pat, are retired primary school teachers who meet every Thursday, at the Thirsk Garden Centre, for coffee and cake and a natter about families and friends and life in general. Their background and experience have given them sharp minds and caring temperaments, coupled with pragmatism and a deep psychological understanding of human nature. The three women are all very different and extremely well drawn characters, with detailed family backgrounds that clearly show why they act, individually and collectively, in the way they do when sleuthing. The plot is carefully assembled, rather like a patchwork quilt, with each element placed just so. As a mystery story it is not particularly complicated, but the writing is so good that you find yourself invested in these women and their progress.
In short, I loved this story, just as I loved its predecessor, and recommend it highly.
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publishers and the author for providing me with a draft proof copy for the purpose of this review.

Was this review helpful?

I could not put this book down what a perfect book to read I loved the three main characters if you loved the author other book you going to love this as did I loved the description of all the characters & I had a version of hycient bouquet for the headteacher when I was reading this and loved them mention of Suffolk town near from where I am from originally

I won’t ruin this book with any spoilers but I highly recommend it
Thanks to Avon books & NetGalley for the arc of this book in exchange for this honest review

Was this review helpful?

Thelma, Liz and Pat our trusted group of retired schoolteachers are, once again, pulled into a mystery that needs solving. This one involves boilers, dodgy dealings, scary headteachers, poison pen letters (who bothers with letters these days?), summer fayres, builders and lots of trips to the garden centre. Wonderful stuff and perfect for those of us that love our cozy mysteries with a hint of Agatha Cristie and Richard Osman! Settle down and enjoy.

Was this review helpful?

this was a great mystery novel, it was what I was hoping for when reading the description. It was really well written and does what a good mystery is suppose to. I really enjoyed the characters in the story and they worked really well. I'm glad I was able to read this as I really enjoyed what I read, and can't wait to read more mysteries by J.M. Hall.

"But you knew about what she was planning?’ There was something expert about the way Kayleigh seized on this point that made Thelma instinctively want to confess or deny what was being implied. For the first time she fully appreciated Victoria’s label of Mussolini."

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an early review copy.

It was nice to be back with Liz, Pat and Thelma.

This time the case they solve is about poison pen letters that are sent to staff at their old school.

So, will they find who writes them?

I recommend this book.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley and Avon Books Uk for my approval to read and review this book.

It was so nice to revisit with Liz, Pat and Thelma as they return to solve a case of poison pen letters being sent to members of staff at their old school. Will they find the writer?? That is for you to find out and for me not to disclose any more!!! I recommend you to get this book and have a cosy afternoon on the sofa.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: