Wicked Autumn, by G. M. Malliet (review)

November 28, 2012 Book Reviews 1 ★★★★½

Wicked Autumn, by G. M. Malliet (review)Wicked Autumn Published by Minotaur Books on September 13th, 2011
Genres: British mystery, Cozy Mystery
Pages: 297
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Audible
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four-half-stars

The first in a delightful series, Wicked Autumn sharply skewers the quintessential English village in a cunningly modern version of the traditional drawing room mystery. Wickedly entertaining, it’s the perfect choice for Agatha Christie fans.

Max Tudor has settled happily into his post as vicar of St. Edwold’s Church in Nether Monkslip. The quaint English village seems to be the perfect new home for Max, who has fled a harrowing past serving in MI5, the British domestic counter-intelligence agency. But his serenity is quickly shattered when the wildly unpopular president of the Women’s Institute turns up dead at the Harvest Fayre. The death looks like an accident, but Max’s MI5 training quickly kicks in, and before long he suspects foul play.

Humorous and compassionate, G. M. Malliet‘s Wicked Autumn is a real treat for lovers of British mystery. Set in the small, quiet English village of Nether Monkslip, the novel features Max Tudor, an ex-MI5 agent turned Anglican vicar, as the amateur sleuth. Max shares the stage with as collection of villagers as delightfully offbeat as you will find outside Margery Allingham’s Campion series.

Malliet is scrupulously fair in presenting the reader with all the necessary clues—and equally skilled at obscuring their importance. I spotted the murderer early on, but later dismissed that individual as a suspect; the full truth eluded me right up to the denouement. The author is no newcomer to the mystery genre, having penned the Agatha Award-winning Death of a Cozy Writer and two subsequent novels starring Detective Chief Inspector St. Just. I enjoyed the St. Just mysteries, but if the second Max Tudor novel lives up to the promise of Wicked Autumn, Malliet will join Deborah Crombie on my list of favorite contemporary mystery authors.

four-half-stars

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