In the reference book And Then There Were Nine: More Women of Mystery by Jane S. Bakerman, Morice explained her choice of protagonist: "Since numerous members of my family (including my father, sister, two daughters and three nephews) are or were closely connected with the theatre and cinema, in one capacity or another, and I married a film director, this was the background I was most familiar with so created Tessa Crichton for the foreground."
Tessa is clever, confident, intuitive and often sarcastic, with a large circle of family, friends and colleagues that figure in most of her plots as either victim or suspect. Her first-person POV is filled with humorous takes on life and her singular psychological view of the people around her as she pokes her nose into cases, mostly based in London or the fictional small town of Roakes Common in Oxfordshire. Tessa's husband helps from afar while he's working on his own cases, and only steps in on occasion.
Scared to Death (1977) is in the middle of the series and finds Tessa in a different location as she participates in the Storhampton drama festival, starring in a play written by her cousin, Toby Crichton. Tessa has time to take in the local sights and culture, including the very rich and very loathsome Edna Mortimer, often seen around town wearing green velvet turbans and ankle-length mink coats, who says she is seeing her doppelganger everywhere she goes. Everyone attributes the sightings to a practical joke until Edna turns up seemingly scared to death. Tessa begins to wonder if one of the dead woman's greedy heirs was behind the deadly prank and looks for clues in a manuscript Edna was writing—a romanticized autobiography.
Morice's plots focus more on character than plot and legal details, and she once cheerfully admitted she didn't know much about real-life police procedure and didn't "think a crime novel should concentrate on the true stuff." But she always plays fair with her clues as she creates well-rounded characters and quirky settings.