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Article  •  15 March 2024


Meet the characters from The Tea Ladies

Meet the tea ladies from Amanda Hampson’s Tea Ladies series.

The Tea Ladies series by Amanda Hampson follows four tea women in 1960s Sydney who become accidental sleuths after a murder in their building. As luck would have it, these tea ladies aren’t too bad at solving murders and busting criminals. The books are fun, funny and perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Bonnie Garmus.

While there is so much to love about the series – the depictions of a bygone Surry Hills, insight into ‘60s fashion houses, the unique role of a tea lady – it is the characters that really steal the show.

Keep reading to meet the characters from The Tea Ladies and The Cryptic Clue, coming 3 April.

The characters from The Tea Ladies

Hazel Bates

Hazel Bates, tea lady at Empire Fashionwear, has the gift of bringing calm and clarity to any situation. She has an excellent memory and is a keen observer, noting seemingly unimportant details others often fail to see. Honest and pragmatic, she’s also genuinely kind. Her secret gift is that her ears tingle when someone tells a lie (a whooper makes them positively burn) which makes it difficult to put one over on her. When she’s not solving crimes, Hazel enjoys working on jigsaw puzzles and brewing homemade fruit wine. It goes without saying that she knows how to brew an excellent cup of tea and always remembers everybody’s favourite biccie.

Betty Dewsnap

Betty Dewsnap, tea lady at Farley Frocks, has been best friend to Hazel since they worked together on the switchboard at the telephone exchange forty years earlier. She’s bubbly and excitable but also a martyr to her many ailments, both real and imagined. Eager to please, she often gets roped into doing things she doesn’t want to do (usually by Irene). Betty is thrilled when the tea ladies find themselves to be accidental detectives and dreams of a new career as a private eye. She’s a keeper of highly unreliable lists (mixing clues with shopping items) and, although she seems like a scatterbrain, Betty has a knack for identifying the one missing piece that completes the puzzle.

Irene Turnbuckle

Irene Turnbuckle works at Silhouette Knitwear, at her own admission only kept on because they’re afraid of the consequences of sacking her. She smokes a pipe, never takes off her house slippers (a hole cut in the side for her bunions) and keeps a flask of whiskey in her pinny pocket. Her husband, the notorious safe-cracker Fred ‘Tweezers’ Turnbuckle, is doing time in Long Bay gaol for a robbery. Irene has a healthy disregard for other people and their opinions and (unfortunately) also for personal hygiene. While she has great affection and respect for Hazel, she delights in teasing Betty and baiting Merl. Irene is perfectly comfortable committing criminal acts and keeps a box of lock-picking tools and weapons under her bed.

Merl Perlman

Merl Perlman, tea lady at Klein’s Lingerie, was previously a schoolteacher and quietly thinks herself as slightly superior to her fellow tea ladies. Her ambition is to regain a position of respect and power in the world and quietly has her sights set on becoming Chairwoman of the Tea Ladies Guild. Merl is a devoted mother and grandmother with four married daughters and countless grandchildren (she’s perpetually knitting) whom she loves to boast about. Most controversial of her extended family is son-in-law Detective Pierce, previously with the Criminal Investigations Bureau but mysteriously demoted and suspected to be corrupt. Merl is well-known as a gifted baker and has won countless ribbons at the Royal Easter Show for her cream sponges.


Pre-order The Cryptic Clue to secure your copy before it comes out on 3 April 2024. 

Featured Titles

The Tea Ladies
A wickedly witty cosy crime novel set in Sydney in the swinging sixties, ideal for fans of Richard Osman and Bonnie Garmus.
Read more
The Cryptic Clue
Look who’s back in hot water! The highly anticipated new novel in The Tea Ladies mystery series, a runaway bestseller of the year. Ideal for fans of Richard Osman and Bonnie Garmus.
Read more

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