Wicked Autumn (Max Tudor Series #1)

Wicked Autumn (Max Tudor Series #1)

by G. M. Malliet

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Overview

What could be more dangerous than cozy village life in the English countryside?

Max Tudor has adapted well to his post as vicar of St. Edwold's in the idyllic village of Nether Monkslip. The quiet village seems the perfect home for Max, who has fled a harrowing past as an MI5 agent. Now he has found a measure of peace among urban escapees and yoga practitioners, artists and crafters and New Agers. But this new-found serenity is quickly shattered when the highly vocal and unpopular president of the Women's Institute turns up dead at the Harvest Fayre. The death looks like an accident, but Max's training as a former agent kicks in, and before long he suspects foul play.

Max has ministered to the community long enough to be familiar with the tangled alliances and animosities among the residents, but this tragedy surprises and confounds him. It is impossible to believe anyone in his lovely village capable of the crime, and yet given the victim, he must acknowledge that almost everyone had probably fantasized about killing Wanda Batton-Smythe.
As the investigation unfolds, Max becomes more intricately involved. Memories he'd rather not revisit are stirred, evoking the demons from the past which led him to Nether Monkslip. In WICKED AUTUMN, G.M. Malliet serves up an irresistible English village—deliciously skewered—a flawed but likeable protagonist, and a brilliantly modern version of the traditional drawing room mystery.One of The Boston Globe's Best Mysteries of 2011
One of Library Journal's Best Mystery Books of 2011

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429983891
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/13/2011
Series: Max Tudor Series , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 58,772
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Winner of the Agatha Award for Death of a Cozy Writer, which initially won the Malice Domestic grant, G.M. MALLIET attended Oxford University and holds a graduate degree from the University of Cambridge, the setting for her previous series, the St. Just mysteries.


G. M. MALLIET's Death of a Cozy Writer received the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and was named one of the best books of 2008 by Kirkus Reviews. It went on to earn nominations for Anthony, Macavity, and Left Coast Crime awards. The first books in the Max Tudor series—Wicked Autumn, A Fatal Winter, Pagan Spring, and A Demon Summer—also were nominated for the Agatha Award. She and her husband live in Virginia and travel frequently to the UK, the setting for many of her stories.

Read an Excerpt


CHAPTER 1

The Women
 

Wanda Batton-Smythe, head of the Women’s Institute of Nether Monkslip, liked to say she was not one to mince words. She might add that she was always one to call a spade a spade, and that what more people needed was simply to pull their socks up and get on with it. She was saying these things now—calling on all the resources in her cliché lineup, in fact—to a captive audience of approximately thirty-five women who, to a woman, were wishing themselves elsewhere than in the Village Hall, sitting on orange molded-plastic seats that might have been rejects from an ergonomics study, on an otherwise peaceful Saturday night in September.
Reports of members present and apologies for absence received (Miss Pitchford had a head cold) had already been swiftly recorded. The women had stood to sing the traditional “Jerusalem,” if at a somewhat faster tempo than was customary. Still, they had reached this night a deep, throaty trill on “Bring me my chariot of fire!”—for so many, a favorite line, unifying the straying or hesitant warblers into a mighty whole—before the effort collapsed again at “I will not cease from mental fight.”
Finally, reports from the Flower Show and Guy Fawkes committees had been rushed through in unseemly haste, lest they detract from the main event: Wanda Batton-Smythe’s address to the troops.
The men of the village, upholding a time-honored tradition in the division of labor, were of course safely ensconced amongst the gleaming brass and cheery glow of the nearby Hidden Fox pub.
“I am, as you know, not one to mince words, and you can always count on me to call a spade a spade,” Wanda reminded them, her voice filling the room like a sonic gun. “The preparations for the annual Harvest Fayre are in an absolute shambles. We have all got to start pulling our socks up.”
Calling on her knowledge of public speaking, newly refreshed by a rereading of the 1983 classic Grabbing Your Audience by the Throat: Tips and Tricks for the Successful Orator, Wanda paused, her unblinking gaze panning the crowd, gathering eyeballs like so many marbles into her rhetorical basket.
“A shambles,” she repeated, a doomsday prophetess. “It’s an absolute disgrace.”
Lily Iverson, rightly assuming part of this condemnation to be aimed starkly at her small head, began a stuttering apology, but in such a small voice as to be easily drowned out by Wanda’s stentorian tones. It was a bullying technique nicely honed during Wanda’s time in the trenches of the parish council meetings, where skirmishes over the proposed redesign of the coat of arms had become the stuff of legend. The name Wanda Batton-Smythe indeed was often invoked by young parents in warnings aimed at keeping their offspring in line, for she had become for many an embodiment of fear, a veritable bogeywoman.
Wanda now stood before the group, marshaling her resources for further onslaught, her broad, still-handsome face framed by a starchy collar over a dark summer wool dress that Cotton Mather would have approved. Her hair was a helmet of hardened curls, like rows of teeny brown snakes highlighted and poised to strike, living testament to the efficacy of Final Net, and her bosom was tightly bound in some unmoving modern wonder fabric that rendered her body rigid and unbowing, much like her mind. The gray eyes again scanned her audience like an advance scout awaiting the approach of enemy forces. Altogether she looked, as always, more like a woman gearing up for battle than the leader of a group of well-intentioned if somewhat loopy volunteers. Much of her life with her husband the Major, as well as her own service in the Women’s Royal Army Corps, had rubbed off.
“Wanda, I don’t think—” began Suzanna Winship, the willowy blond sister of the local doctor, coming to the defense of Lily, whose lower lip had begun to tremble around her adult braces. Wrapped in a fluffy white mohair dress of her own design (Lily owned a local yarn and knitting business), her hair clipped short around protuberant ears, she resembled a Chihuahua puppy abandoned in a snowdrift.
Wanda pounced.
“You have not asked to be recognized, nor have you been given permission to speak.”
“Permission to speak?” Suzanna spluttered, looking round her: Did anyone else find Wanda ridiculous? They did, but no one had the courage to indicate so by word or deed, at least not to Wanda’s face. Suzanna was new to the village. She’d learn.
Elka Garth, a grandmotherly woman in her fifties who owned the village bakery-slash-tearoom, did exhale a soft little sigh, adjusting her thick glasses and wishing the Reverend Max Tudor would hurry up and marry so his wife might take on the role traditionally allotted to those in her position. A palace coup, as it were, was called for. But the Vicar remained unwed—despite being a rakishly handsome man whose arrival in the village three years ago had had much the impact of a Hugh Grant exiting the elevator as Aretha Franklin sang “What you want, baby, I got” (Elka was a movie buff). His advent having utterly galvanized the female population, he remained, it was felt, stubbornly unattached despite the concerted best efforts of every woman in Nether Monkslip to corral him for either themselves or a relative. Over time, he tended to be thought of as “more in the mold of Tom Hanks,” which only leant more to his appeal, and to the frustration of what came to be called, with linguistic inaccuracy, the Anglican Yenta Corps.
Only slightly daunted, Suzanna now stood up in her sexy, slip-on heels, her hair artfully tousled, a cruel if unintentional contrast to Wanda’s battened-down façade. Aware that most women hated her on sight, or at least regarded her with deep suspicion as having the potential to quickly develop, without careful monitoring, into the village hussy, Suzanna had cultivated in self-defense a genuinely warm and disarming persona. The others watched in awed silence as they realized she was going to engage. It was like watching a sacrificial virgin preparing to fling herself into the mouth of an active volcano.
“It is not Lily’s fault that the vendor let us down,” Suzanna said loudly, anticipating Wanda’s air-raid siren shout-down. When roused, Suzanna could give as good as she got, and in defense of someone already as downtrodden as Lily, Suzanna could be formidable indeed. Besides, she knew there lingered among the members of the Women’s Institute some unresolved feeling, however unwarranted, from the debacle that was the “All about Mixing Cocktails!” program of earlier in the year. Suzanna, who had suggested the scheme, and felt some ground had been lost in the sound-judgment department, was anxious to shine here.
“The Fayre this year apparently has been a cock-up all round compared with previous years, but perhaps we could focus efforts on what we should be doing to be ready anyway in one week’s time.”
Wanda, who had drawn a deep, shocked breath on the word “cock-up,” had not otherwise disturbed the loaded silence of the room. Mme Cuthbert, who operated La Maison Bleue wine and cheese shop with a polished élan, allowed herself a small moue of approval in Suzanna’s direction. The others stared straight ahead, like zombies in a bad sci-fi movie.
Finally, Awena Owen, the village’s self-proclaimed New-Agey Neopagan, for want of a better description, was emboldened to speak, pushing back her thick dark hair, striking because of its single streak of white over one brow. She stood, feet solidly planted, a vital, comely, and charismatic figure who, although essentially otherworldly, managed to operate her New Age gift shop on a large profit margin. She was well liked and respected by the villagers, who called her the Great White Oprah.
“I have a few extra chairs in my shop,” Awena said now, “cluttering up the back room. One needs mending, is all. I’d bet the rest of us could have a look in our attics and find something there too. Save us money, anyway, and this is all for charity.”
Wanda Batton-Smythe found her voice at last.
“I Know It’s For Charity,” she bit out, her tone now apocalyptic. She looked like a bishop about to consign the Maid of Orléans to the flames. “We’ll have a hodgepodge of furniture in the tea tent that won’t match.” Her mouth, which she had barely peeled open for speech, now snapped shut in a thin line of distaste, as if Awena had suggested they all ride naked in the fete’s pony ride.
“So?” said Awena, not unreasonably.
“Then that’s settled,” yelled Suzanna, in triumph this time. She began rootling in her handbag for pencil and paper. “If everyone would put down their name and the number of chairs they think they can provide. We’ll need tables, too, of course. Now, as to the Bring and Buy…”
Lily swiveled a brief, grateful glance in her direction, but overall Lily’s round brown eyes remained fixed on Wanda’s face. It was a sight not without fascination as outrage, frustration, and murderous impulse struggled for supremacy. Wanda seemed to telegraph an unambiguous Fuck you in Suzanna’s direction, but when she spoke she had evidently decided to “Rise Above It.” Cutting across the Bring and Buy chatter, she said, “As we seem to have no choice in the matter, due to the incompetence of the person in charge” (here she pointed a quivering, outraged finger in Lily’s direction, in case anyone remained in doubt about who was to blame), “this poor stopgap measure will have to do.” She sighed heavily, dissatisfaction puckering her lips. “As I am in charge of the Bring and Buy, there is no need for further discussion. That will come off like clockwork.” The or else was implied, and hung in the air like sulfur following a visit from Beelzebub himself. “Now, tonight we have refreshments, provided by Elka Garth, so if there is no further business…” She brought down the gavel before anyone could speak.
Nonetheless, Elka had a small contribution to make.
“I’ve brought two kinds of biscuits—chocolate this time. As usual, one made with peanuts and one without.”
Wanda nodded her approval. She was allergic to peanuts and appreciated that Elka always made concessions in this regard. There was a headlong rush toward the food-and-drinks table followed by more than a little genteel elbowing, for Elka was a superb baker.
Pigs to the trough, thought Wanda. Aloud she said, with a regal nod, in public recognition of a good and faithful servant, “Thank you sooo much, Elka.”
Lead by example, that was the ticket. Never let it be said that Wanda Batton-Smythe was not the embodiment of gracious behavior at all times. She folded her glasses into her handbag—a handbag ever present, like the Queen’s—and snapped it shut.
Never.

 
Copyright © 2011 by G. M. Malliet

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Malliet has mastered the delights of the cozy mystery so completely that she seems to be channeling Agatha Christie... [with] ironic humor that contribute[s] a little spice to the village charm, making the story even more delicious. Religion, espionage, tea, and crumpets: a winning menu." Booklist starred review "Agatha Award–winning author Malliet (Death of a Cozy Writer) debuts a superb new series... You’ll marvel at the author’s low-key humor and crystal-clear depictions of small-town life...  Malliet, like Louise Penny, brings a contemporary freshness to the traditional mystery."

Library Journal, starred review  “Hugely funny, exquisitely well written, Wicked Autumn is a tongue-in-cheek village mystery to be savored.  G.M. Malliet's arch tone and wry humor make her a writer to be treasured.”

—Julia Spencer-Fleming, bestselling author of ONE WAS A SOLDIER

“A superb novel!  Filled with humor and insight, G.M. Malliet creates a fabulous setting in Nether Monkslip and a great series hero in Father Max Tudor.  Rarely have I read descriptions that have left me gasping, in both their hilarity and their painful truth.   A wonderful read.” —Louise Penny, Agatha award–winning author of the Armand Gamache mysteries

One of the most delightful English village mysteries I’ve read since Agatha Christie stopped writing about Saint Mary Mead.  G.M. Malliet’s sly allusions to both Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot will make Christie fans chuckle, but Nether Monkslip is no village that time forgot—not with its new age citizenry and a vicar who’s a dishy ex-MI5.  Highly recommended.”

—Margaret Maron, Edgar, Anthony, Agatha winner,  and author of CHRISTMAS MOURNING

"A contemporary and deliciously wicked homage to Agatha Christie's village mysteries, with an equally delicious hero who is infinitely sexier than Miss Marple.  Once readers meet handsome, intelligent, witty MI5 spy-turned-Anglican priest Max Tudor, they'll be searching their maps for the village of Nether Monkslip!"—Deborah Crombie, New York Times bestselling author of NECESSARY AS BLOOD

"G. M. Malliet has brought the village cozy into the 21st century—where else could the Vicar be retired from MI5? Written with dry humor and a wickedly accurate portrait of the modern English village, Wicked Autumn is a refreshing and fun read for everyone who loves a really good murder." —Charles Todd, NY Times Best-selling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge Series

 

 

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Wicked Autumn 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 79 reviews.
mystery_fan More than 1 year ago
If you are a collector of first editions, you'll want to try to order this book the minute it becomes available. It is the traditional village mystery at its best--an intelligent cozy both men and women should enjoy. Clever, witty, smart. Believe what you've heard: This one will be around for a long time. This is a review of an Advance Review Copy of the book. Recommended for fans of Louise Penny.
Michelle1948 More than 1 year ago
...and I'm glad that I gave this one a chance. It is multiple characters within a small village whose vicar is a former MI5 agent. Its a village in which the Vicar feels that no evil could intrude. But it does. A murder is committed. It's interesting in how it is written. You follow the vicar as he visits each of the more prominent citizens within the village and you get to know them. You are almost in the Vicar's thoughts as he contemplates every meeting and word spoken. And as he sips each cup of tea, he starts to see how someone could fathom so much hate for a person and it leads to "MURDER." I think this is a great introduction to the villagers and a Vicar and the mystery that could lie ahead for them in each new book. I will definitely look for more in this series.
nancydrew123 More than 1 year ago
I was so excited to read this book because of the great reviews. This was just ok for me. The characters were bland and the story was flat. It could have been so good because it had all of the elements of a good cozy. Small English village - cast of town characters - a Fall Fair -- and a murder. Instead of interlacing clues through good character development and plot twists and turns the author described unnecessary things in detail. At times I found myself skimming thru a long boring room description in order to move the story forward. The story seemed to be more about the Fayre (the Fall Fair) than the murder. The murder victim fell flat and I found myself not caring who killed her. And as a matter of fact I think I read more descriptions of rooms and clothing than I did about murder clues. I did read the entire book because I wanted to give this book a chance. I'm not sure if I'll read the next book in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the book entertaining enough to keep my interest but not dark & heavy reading. Reminded me of a 40's murder mystery movie, which I've always enjoyed. There was enough backround information on the characters to make them realistic. This was the first time I've read G.M. Malliet, but would definetly read other books by the same author based on this one. If you enjoy a (dare I say) light murder mystery, pick this one up.
SolverFan More than 1 year ago
The hours you spend with the suspicious denizens of this English village will be rewarding. The book is a treat for those who like cozies, wit, and character development. I will definitely look for and buy the next G. M. Malliet.
ogd More than 1 year ago
would recommend this book for a quiet evenings read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters are great, lots of quirks, and the village life detail is very authentic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mild-mannered mystery set in English village, a fun read that plays fair with its clues.
ishgh More than 1 year ago
It would be fun to live in their village, likeable people, mystery with a twist, a real surprise at the end.
BWT More than 1 year ago
Too long winded. Terrible in Nook format, missing text.
Anonymous 4 months ago
I found the book enjoyable. I look forward to the next book in the series.
BeagleGirl123 More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable English cozy featuring and MI5 agent turned vicar. Nice start to the series, and I'm looking forward to reading the second!
aztwinmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wicked Autumn is a wonderful cozy mystery set in a picturesque English village filled with interesting characters. The mystery was well-written and the characters well-rounded. This is the first book I've read by this author, but I plan on reading more!
momweaver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a very intriguing mystery. The sleuth was believable and the people were interesting. Malliet descriptions of the people and the setting brought the book to life. I'll read more from this author.
momgee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We first meet the imposing Wanda Batton-Smythe at a WI meeting in the Village Hall in the little town of Nether Monkslip where she is haranguing the members about doing more, much more, for the upcoming Harvest Fayre. It's only a week away and Wanda is not satisfied at the slack attempts that have been made so far. Does she have to do everything herself? Come on, people. Pull up your socks and get doing; after all it's for charity. What would the village do without Wanda? She just can't imagine!Well, on Fayre day, the village will find out. In search of more tea and biscuits for the tea tent, Max Tudor, vicar for the past three years and local restauranteur, Guy Nicholls, volunteer to go find more supplies stored in the Village Hall. What they find is Wanda. Dead, and by the look of her, not from natural causes.Despite the fact that the abrasive Wanda had stepped on a lot of toes with her bossy, heavy-handed ways and garnered a bit of animosity with her critical nature, the villagers can't believe someone set out to murder her deliberately. Not in their own "little Brigadoon." Nobody can even remember when there was a murder. Speculation as to motive runs the gamut." It was a robbery, pure and simple," was the overall consensus." What was there to steal in the Village Hall? My gran's recipe for candied yams isn't that rare."Even the local bobby, Musteile, has his theory as he explained to DCI Cotton of the Monkslip-super-Mare police dept."Clearly it will be Travelers responsible. I'll get right on it."Cotton regarded him. "Travelers?""You know. Gypsies""You've spotted a caravan site of Gypsies, have you?""'Course not," Musteile was saying. "Sir, only stands to reason though."And so the mechanics of the investigation begin, shattering the once peaceful village feel. Former MI5 agent and now the local vicar, Max Tudor, teams up with DCI Cotton in questioning the residents. The theory is most villagers will not be too open to the police but will be much more talkative to the vicar. After numerous cups of tea while visiting with a host of residents, he feels he is getting some good insight into what happened on that fateful Fayre day and the events leading up to it.This is a great concept by the author to let the reader know more about the characters. At the beginning I was worried when I saw the somewhat lengthy list of characters. I felt there was no way all these could be developed but I was wrong. Malliet pulls it off and brilliantly! With a well constructed mystery plot, sparkling wit, characters that leap off the page and a wonderful sense of place, I was enchanted with this quintessential little British village and all the residents. Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by St. Martin's Press through LT's early reviewer program
enemyanniemae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this LibraryThing Early Reviewers book muchly. The premise is quite intriguing. Max Tudor, former British MI5 agent turned Anglican priest finds his old training quite helpful to his parishioners when the town's biggest mover/shaker is found dead during the town's annual Autumn Fayre. There are a number of suspects, as the victim was universally disliked, but the possibility that one of his flock could be a cold blooded killer spurs Max to offer his assistance to the investigator assigned to the case. Interesting back story snippets for the residents (as well as a peek into Max's past) make for a fun read. And if nothing else had caught my interest, Malliet has an amazing way with words and that alone is enough to keep you reading. An example of the wonderfulness? How's this sentence for sheer artistry? "Wanda paused, her unblinking gaze scanning the crowd, gathering eyeballs like so many marbles into her rhtorical basket." Or this one? "Wrapped in a fluffy white mohair dress of her own design (Lily owned a local yarn and knitting business), her hair clipped short around protuberant ears, she resembled a Chihuahua puppy abandoned in a snowdrift." The book is chock full of such marvelous imagery. And the mystery isn't half bad either.All in all, this was a very enjoyable read. I look forward to the next title in the series. .
jmyers24 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When termagant Wanda Batton-Smythe, president of the Women's Institute, is found dead in the Village Hall of bucolic Nether Monkslip with the Harvest Fayre in full swing, all are shocked but few are grieving. Wanda, it seems, with her domineering and critical personality, had many enemies and few, if any, friends among the residents of this quiet English village two hours outside of London. While her death from anaphylactic shock appears accidental, the Rev. Max Tudor¿former MI5 agent turned agent for God¿doesn't think so. When Detective Chief Inspector Cotton calls on Max to leverage his unique position as village pastor to aid in the investigation, Max agrees despite some qualms of conscience. The thought that one of his flock could be a murderer disturbs him more than his guilt at deceiving his parishioners as he attempts to discover who possibly hated Wanda enough to arrange her ¿accidental¿ death.While G. M. Malliet's Wicked Autumn has all the right elements of the English cozy¿several suspects, remote location, weekend event, and local resident detective¿the pace is so slow it almost crawls to the finish. The narrative seems maxed out on the Rev. Max as he constantly ruminates on the few clues he unearths in his visits to various suspects under the guise of his duties as village pastor and on his previous career as an MI 5 agent. However, the setting has its charms and the plot, while somewhat unrealistic, has sufficient complexity to sustain reader interest. The ingredients are all here for an excellent series on par with Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache; it's just the amounts that need adjustment. I hope the next batch of Rev. Max and Nether Monkslip fulfills the hint of promise and proves to be just right.
mysterymax on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I put off writing this review thinking that I might come to realize that I enjoyed the book more than I did, after all, Malliet is a very well regarded writer. This was the first of her books that I had read and I expected to really enjoy it. Without question, Malliet's use of words is excellent. It would certainly appeal to Agatha Christie fans (lots of suitable suspects and a generally unlikable victim) and I could see why she is often compared to Christie. I will most likely read another in the series to see how it develops.But. I did not find myself caring about Max, or the people in the village. I felt overwhelmed with all the character development of the individual members of the village and wondered if I would be required to learn this all over again in a second book. The main feeling I had was "get on with it". It seemed slow, even for a cozy. I also wondered if Max would have been able to solve the case if it had not been for the last-minute witness turning up. The conclusion was not worthy of the writing.
mckait on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are few things more satisfying to read on a quiet afternoonthan a cozy British mystery. I was not always a fan of mysteries, butwhen I discovered this genre with a book by another author, I was immediatelyhooked. I thought that no one could do it as well, but I do believe that I have to add G.M.Malliet to my list of favorite authors. Max Tudor is not your typical Anglican priest. He has a past that most would think is not one to prepare him for such a life. Yet, MI5 agent, retired Max Tudorlives in a small town, Nether Monkslip, and has become a well liked addition to the town. His charm and good looks don't hurt at all, nor does the fact that heis unmarried. Finding him the perfect wife, or becoming his wife, has become a bitof a favorite pastime in town. As with all small towns, everyone seems to know each others business. Seems being the operative word here, as there have been a few small things that have gone unnoticed by everyone. One thing it was impossible to ignore was Wanda Batton-Smyth and her approach to being one of the town leaders. As president of the ladies association, she described herself as not one to mince words, and one who called a spade a spade. Thatshe did! much to the consternation of those whom she dealt with harshly on a daily basis. But, was that a reason to kill her? And who in that small town would do such a thing? Well, as nearly everyone who knew her had been offended by her for something or another, it was hard to tell. One of my favorite things about this story is the humor. Malliet managed to tuck it in here and there and often unobtrusively. I found myself laughing out lout more than once!This was pure pleasure to read. I will absolutely be following this series, and my only regret is that I may have to wait for some time for the next one to appear.
bailey9189 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I always enjoy cozy mysteries, especially those set in little villages in England. The main character, Max, is an ex-MI5 agent who has been reborn as a vicar. He serves in a small English village. His experience in the MI5 comes in handy when a murder occurs at a village fete. I enjoyed the characters hope to read more in this new series.
owlie13 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first book by this author, and I enjoyed it. I'm not usually a fan of cozy British mysteries, but this had more of an edge and was not as cutesy as some authors of the genre. I came away with a good sense of the village and its inhabitants. The mystery kept me guessing, although I did have an inkling about the who -- I just wasn't sure about the how and the why. Overall, a good read.
lindapanzo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This delightful traditional British cozy mystery is the first in Malliet's new mystery series, featuring Max Tudor, a former MI5 agent turned Anglican priest. It's set in a traditional village of Nether Manslip.I thoroughly enjoyed the clever plot, the subtle humor, and the standard, though somewhat intriguing, characters and would highly recommend this mystery to anyone who enjoys a traditional cozy. I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.
libri_amor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As in all english villages, there is the 'superior' equal of the women's organization. In this case Wanda is much hated, feared and even used as a threat to small children to behave. Nonetheless, the 'fayre must go one' '''Shambles'' that it is. With good character development, scene setting this is a fine start to a new series. As always people have secret lives, whether it be the village C of E priest (MI-5 retiree) or just the hidden courtships of small villages, this makes for tangles and webs.After the death of Wanda, as no one is grieving, the task of determining the means and motives falls to the priest in concert with the local constabulary. A rather contrived ending, seems like the author got to a point where he couldn't go forward -- probably went back and added a couple of 'off hand' clues to justify the ending.
kaulsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It took more than 100 pages to decide I would finish the 297 page book. It was just tedious more than anything. Perhaps Malliet is desirous of beginning a new series and so wants to fully develop her characters? I only know that had someone not knocked off this woman, I would have. She became much more sympathetic after death than she was in life, certainly.I had never previously encountered this writer, and will not go out of my way to read her again.
aardvark2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book should appeal to fans of Agatha Christie. It is a ¿cozy¿ mystery, the first in a new series, set in a small English village. The main character, Max Tudor, is an Anglican priest who was formerly an MI5 agent, a past which serves him well in assisting the police with a murder investigation. The victim, Wanda Batton-Smythe, head of the local Women¿s Institute, has a knack for bullying and antagonizing everyone in the village, so the list of suspects is large when she is found dead. Max¿s past as an MI5 agent, the event that caused him to turn to the priesthood, and his criminal investigation talents all make for an atypical village sleuth. The importance of the Women¿s Institute, its function in village life, and the infighting it engenders are of interest to Americans, who have no counterpart. And there is a hint of potential romance in the future for unmarried Max: possibly the sexy doctor¿s sister or the earthy owner of the New Age shop?The characterizations are especially rich in this book. The village has a large cast of characters, all very well developed. There is a list of all the characters, along with descriptions, at the beginning of the book. I feel that I will have no difficulty remembering the village inhabitants when the next book in the series comes along. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it.