Sunday, April 16, 2017

Devil's Breath by G. M. Malliet

Max Tudor comes out of retirement (was he ever really in retirement?) to assist MI5 and DCI Cotton with a case out of Agatha Christie in G. M. Malliet's latest mystery, Devil's Breath. It's a mystery for those who appreciate convoluted, character-driven mysteries.

When a body washes up onshore at Monkslip-super-Mare, it isn't long before it's identified as Margot Browne, a faded actress who was sailing on director Romero Farnier's yacht. The news story is only of slight interest to Father Max Tudor, but then he's called by MI5. He retired from there to become an clergyman, but now a former lover and colleague wants his help. She was onboard the yacht, undercover, but she was just about to leave the ship because of her pregnancy when Margot was killed. And, DCI Cotton is convinced it was murder.

Who would want to kill the aging actress who drank too much? Was she putting too much pressure on Romero for a role in his next film? What about the young actor who was rooming with her? Or, Romero's latest actress/lover who might have been jealous of Margot. And, why was MI5 interested in the yacht?

While Malliet handles the locked room mystery with ease, there's a lack of emotion in this latest story. Perhaps it's because Max is out of his element, away from the villages and the gossip and close-knit community. The people on the yacht lack any connection to him, or even a community. They are cold-blooded Hollywood types and hangers-on, without much emotion. I never really connected with any of the characters. This book just seemed like a textbook investigation for Max and Cotton.

Saying that, fans of Max Tudor and DCI Cotton will still want to catch up with their latest exploits in Devil's Breath. The conversations between Max and Cotton are delightful, adding humor to the story. And, their friendship is unique. It's worth reading the book just to see these two interact.

G. M. Malliet's website is

Devil's Breath by G. M. Malliet. Minotaur Books. 2017. ISBN 9781250092786 (hardcover), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Kaye Barley said...

I'm a little embarrassed to admit I have not yet tried anything by G. M. Malliet. Is this her only series?

Lesa said...

No, Kaye. She wrote three books in the St. Just series, beginning with Death of a Cozy Writer. It won the Agatha for Best First. Funny, but I only read one. Names like St. Just and Fear, and you get the point.

Gram said...

I read the first three books in this series and liked them very much..I don't know why I haven't read any more - time to catch up.

Sharon said...

I read all the St. Just ones. I read this series but quit after Demon Summer. I found them a little on the dry side.

Lesa said...

Gram and Sharon. Thank you! It's interesting to see if you like the books, prefer the St. Just, or if they interest you, but not enough to keep going.

BPL Ref said...

I've read the others in this series but wasn't sure about this one. I rather enjoyed the earlier ones in which Max was trying to put his past behind him and fully embrace his new calling, but he's obviously moving more into crime solving and less with his priestly duties. I'm not an especial fan of ecclesiastical mysteries, but I did like watching Max's struggle between the sacred and the secular. It set the series apart a bit.

Sharon said...

I liked the St. Just mysteries and was sorry there weren't any more to the series. I also liked the first Max Tudor books. I had such a hard time getting through Demon Summer, I decided not to continue on with the series.

Lesa said...

As I mentioned, this book was a departure, so I'm not surprised some of us stopped reading the series.