Where was I when G.M. Malliet won the Agatha Award for Best First Mystery Novel? Death of a Cozy Writer is everything a traditional mystery should be. It's a satisfying book, in the tradition of Agatha Christie. I've already bought the next two books in the series.
Malliet has combined all of the satisfying elements of an English locked-room mystery. Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk, a wealthy man because of his own cozy books written in the style of the Miss Marple stories, is also a totally dislikable man who delights in tormenting his grown children by changing his will any time someone in the family displeases him. Now, informing all of them that he's about to remarry, he invites the entire family to his manor in Cambridgeshire. And, as he acknowledged smugly, his additional information "set the cat among the pigeons," and he was happy. And, even a subsequent murder did little to disturb Sir Adrian's happiness. In fact, he was delighted when the police informed him that someone in the household was a killer. Just like in one of his mysteries!
But, Detective Chief Inspector Arthur St. Just isn't a dithering police officer. St. Just's assistant, Sergeant Fear, admired his superior. St. Just is a large man, "Walking reassurance that the great British public was safe in his large, capable hands....His demeanor was genial, disarming, and entirely effective in getting witnesses to say more than they intended." St. Just also has a policeman's solid instincts, and he knows there is more trouble brewing in the house.
I found St. Just's investigation and solution entirely effective, and satisfying. Malliet has written a sound, wonderful traditional mystery. As a fan of the genre, I can't give it any higher praise. At the moment, there are two sequels to Death of a Cozy Writer. I hope G.M. Malliet and DCI St. Just have a long, successful career.
G.M. Malliet's website is http://gmmalliet.weebly.com
Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet. Midnight Ink, ©2008. ISBN 9780738712482 (paperback), 312p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.