One Puzzling Afternoon
Editions:Hardcover: £ 14.99
ISBN: 1804181250 / 978-1804181256
Pages: 400
Kindle - Kindle Edition: £ 7.59Audiobook

A mystery she can't remember. A friend she can't forget.

I kept your secret Lucy. I've kept it for more than sixty years . . .

It is 1951, and at number six Sycamore Street fifteen-year-old Edie Green is lonely. Living alone with her eccentric mother - who conducts seances for the local Ludthorpe community - she is desperate for something to shake her from her dull, isolated life.

When the popular, pretty Lucy Theddle befriends Edie, she thinks all her troubles are over. But Lucy has a secret, one Edie is not certain she should keep . . .

Then Lucy goes missing.

2018. Edie is eighty-two and back living in Ludthorpe. When one day she glimpses Lucy Theddle, still looking the same as she did at fifteen, her family write it off as one of her many mix ups. There's a lot Edie gets confused about these days. A lot she finds difficult to remember. But what she does know is this: she must find out what happened to Lucy, all those years ago . . .

Publisher: Zaffre

I first see Lucy Theddle standing outside the post office on Tuesday afternoon. Looking exactly the same as she did in 1951.

I am on my way in when a young man accosts me, carrying a tray and wearing a paper hat.

'Free sweets,' he says, pushing the tray under my nose.

'Free sweets?'

'It's our open day,' he explains, gesturing to the small shop squashed between the post office and Sandy's shoes. The shop used to be a key cutting place. Before that, it sold sports equipment and school uniforms. The sign over the door now reads RETRO SWEETS. ALL YOUR CHILDHOOD FAVOURITES.

'No, thank you,'

'Oh, go on. One won't hurt.' He nudges the tray towards me.

I peer down and there they are: Parma Violets. I reach for them. I can't help myself. 'These used to be my favourites,' I murmur, but the man isn't listening. He has spotted another customer and has dashed off. 'Free Sweets!'


I unwrap the tube and pop one of the tiny disks in my mouth. The taste is sweet and soapy. They remind me of spring flowers and warm days, of cycling down to the sea with the sun on my face, of secret whispers and kept promises.

That's when I see Lucy.




I loved this book.

Marianne Cronin, The 100 Years of Lenni and Margot

A charmingly addictive duel timeline mystery, filled with quirky characters and rich 1950s nostalgia, this book had me hooked from the first chapter and wouldn't let me go.

Neil Alexander, The Vanishing of Margaret Small

A lovely combination of a cracking story and a host of characters you want to reach out and hug.

Jo Leevers, Tell Me How This Ends

A wonderful protagonist and a real page turner. Completely captivating.

Louise Hare, This Lovely City

An uplifting, bittersweet story with a page-turning mystery at its heart. A beautifully atmospheric and endearing book.

Freya Sampson, The Last Chance Library

A mystery deftly woven with tension and compassion

Beth Morrey, Saving Missy

One Puzzling Afternoon has one of the most endearing protagonists in recent crime fiction. A spellbinding novel that enchants and unnerves in equal measure.

Inga Vesper, The Long, Long, Afternoon

Utterly compelling, darkly unnerving, and a joyful masterclass in storytelling.


heartbreaking, funny and gripping

Fabulous Magazine

An outstanding must-read


Great atmosphere and even better characters

Lucy Gilmore, author of The Lonely Hearts Book Club

A splendid read. Both scintillating and sincere. I plan to spend many an afternoon with a Critchley novel in my hand.

Lo Patrick, The Floating Girls