Tuesday, December 5, 2017


HOT FLUSH by Rosy Fenwicke (Wonderful World, 2017)

Reviewed by Alyson Baker

Euphemia Sage watched helplessly as Jane, covered in blood, clutched her precious jewelry and was bundled into the Mercedes. Just a few days earlier she’d discovered that Alison, her mousy receptionist at Sage Consulting, had been working as a loan shark on the side. And now Alison, her husband and those thick-necked men in the cheap suits wanted the money back.

When a desperate Jane had come to Euphemia, of course she had to help. After all, wasn’t this what she was supposed to do? Euphemia had waited more than twenty years to find out if the story in the mysterious letter she’d received on her thirtieth birthday was true. So when at 53 her first hot flush triggered a genetic switch and gave her unexpected powers, she felt more than ready to save Jane and deal to Alison. But what had seemed simple suddenly became complicated when Alison produced a gun. 

Euphemia Sage has been receiving strange letters over the years – from her deceased aunt, the woman who raised her when her mother ran off.  The letters have been spookily aware of Euphemia’s circumstances at the time she reads them, and they speak of strange powers that she will possess once she hits menopause. Euphemia is looking forward to seeing if the letters are true, but unsure how she will use such powers – her life being relatively uneventful. She runs a consultancy business with her golf-crazy husband, and has two daughters, one a police detective and the other a cyber-whiz who works in the family business. She finds enjoyment in her family, her work, running, and in Petal her pug. But that all changes when the hot flushes start.

Euphemia’s annoying but efficient receptionist turns out to be running a loan shark business along with her obnoxious husband – using the Sage’s business to target clients. And an old school rival, Jane, ends up at risk of having her legs broken by the loan shark’s heavies. When Kenneth, Euphemia’s husband, goes off on a golf trip with a group that includes Jane’s husband, Euphemia thinks she has everything under control and can help Jane. But that is before she sees Jane beaten and bundled into a car at gunpoint – and before the heinous baddies take Petal as an additional hostage. After that, things go from terrible to dire, and Euphemia can’t go to the Police, so from the Police point of view she is starting to look like part of the problem.

Hot Flush is a great romp, you find out more and more about the characters as you read, and the story is unveiled layer by layer, with things turning out to be not at all what they first appear to be. Greed, manipulation, and playing the long game, all underpin the story. The writing is very funny, and it is great having the drivers of the plot for the most part being strong women – and having ageing, change of life, and mitochondrial inheritance focussed on in a positive way. There are also unanswered questions and lots of unfinished business, which promises there are more adventures of Euphemia Sage to come – excellent!

Alyson Baker is a crime-loving librarian in Nelson. This review will also appear on her blog, which you can check out here

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