Sharing Books and Authors, with an emphasis on Mysteries.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet
G.M. Malliet's latest Max Tudor mystery takes her MI-5 agent turned Anglican priest into another wonderful tribute to the classic English village mystery in A Fatal Winter. And, this time, he discovers he's a pawn in a killer's game.
Father Max Tudor has settled into a peaceful life in Nether Monkslip, disturbed occasionally when the women of St. Edwold's squabble over important issues such as the cat in the church at Christmastime. But, everyone in the village doesn't have such a calm life. When Lord Footrustle's family gathers at Chedrow Castle for the holidays, it's clear there is going to be trouble. Soon after Max meets Lord Footrustle's sister, Lady Baynard, on a train, he's called to the castle. His friend, DCI Cotton of the Monkslip-super-Mare police, wants to slip him into the hornet's next under the auspices of the church. One of the family members requested a priest after two bodies were found on the property. And, one body was definitely murdered.
No one who reads traditional mysteries will be surprised to find that only the people in the castle itself could have killed the victim. The plot and the unraveling of it are not surprising. However, Malliet is a master at character, atmosphere, and turn of phrase, all of which are striking in this story.
And, she definitely has a flair for describing Max Tudor. When Cotton invited Max to help with the case, Malliet says, Cotton had "An ace up his sleeve...a compassionate man with the heart of a vicar and the soul of a detective, was named Father Max Tudor." Tudor, a little leery about telling his bishop about this latest case realized, "His pastoral duties were starting to overlap with high crimes and misdemeanors."
It's easy to compare Tudor to other detectives, particularly Father Brown or Hercule Poirot. "But, different from both Father Brown and Poirot, Max was interested in both sin and crime. Which made him a potent, double-barreled investigative force." And, Tudor and Cotton make a powerful team. And, I find this wonderful. It's a combination of cop and priest, two men who truly care about the victims. It's an aspect of Malliet's traditional mysteries that I truly appreciate. The victim is not forgotten in these books. Both men find these crimes unspeakable because they care about the victims.
While Tudor spends most of the book at the atmospheric Chedrow Castle, the village scenes are just as beautifully revealed. Malliet's Nether Monkslip is a charming English Village with an intriguing cast of characters. If you're a fan of traditional mysteries, you'll welcome the chance to return to Tudor's home territory.
A Fatal Winter has few surprises for the avid mystery fan. However, anyone who loves the English village mystery, a locked room mystery, and a wonderful cast of villagers, will want to pick up the second book in the Max Tudor series.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
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