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 www.GMMalliet.com
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.