Friday, December 8, 2017

A Fatal Winter: G. M. Malliet

I read Wicked Autumn by G. M. Malliet in mid-September. Probably wishful thinking... I was hoping for some fallish weather at the time. And this is what I had to say about that book in my August - September reading summary:
Max Tudor is the vicar of the very small village of Nether Monkslip, and the star of this amateur sleuth mystery. However, he was previously an agent for MI5, so he has a bit of experience. He gets called on to help in a behind-the-scenes role when a prominent member of the Women's Institute dies during the Harvest Fayre. A bit too cozy for me, but I plan on reading more in the series.
So that is what I did. I found a copy of A Fatal Winter, book 2 in the series, because it is a traditional Christmas mystery.

Lord Footrustle is extremely wealthy but also lonely. None of his relatives, except for his twin sister, Lady Baynard, have any love for him. He lives in Chedrow Castle with his sister and her adopted granddaughter. He invites his relatives and heirs to visit at Christmas, and they show up because they want to ensure their inheritance and possibly negotiate for more. All, and I do mean all, of the family members are unlikable. Very rich, very entitled, not in touch with the real world at all. That is the setup.

On December 13th, Lord Footrustle is found in his bedroom, having suffered a violent death, which is clearly murder. Shortly after that on the same morning, Lady Baynard is also discovered dead, in her garden hothouse, but she appears to have died of natural causes. The death of Lord Footrustle and his sister so close together leads to questions of who inherits what. The visitors to Chedrow Castle are about equally divided between Lord Footrustle's heirs and Lady Baynard's heirs.


DCI Cotton of Monkslip-super-Mare is in charge of the case. And he in turn calls in his friend, Father Max Tudor, ex-MI5 operative, to help with the case. The contrived reasons to explain why the vicar's presence is acceptable are somewhat unconvincing, but this is fiction, so that did not really bother me. I liked the detectives in this book very much: DCI Cotton, Sergeant Essex and Max. There were two other fun characters, the butler and his wife, the cook. They provided suspects not in the family and an outside view of the victims and family members.

There were some niggles but they did not spoil the book overall for me. Max is almost too perfect and too hunky. Much is made of every woman being attracted to him. His love interest, who does intrude into the plot somewhat, is also perfect. The first book in the series was set in the village of Nether Monkslip and some readers missed that aspect of the series in this book. Not me; I preferred the castle and the closed circle of suspects.

The author is from the US but has spent some time living in the UK. Although I did not notice anything myself, I am pretty sure there were some cases where incorrect words and terms are used.  The author also pulls in too many references to real events and people of the times for me; I find that distracting.

But all in all this was an engrossing read. I kept wondering who did it, and that was the kind of ride I was looking for. The resolution was well done and interesting. I felt like I should have seen it coming, but I did not. The story did not have a lot of depth but was entertaining. I enjoy reading this kind of book sometimes but I would not want a steady diet of it. I will be reading the third book, Pagan Spring, because I found a copy at the book sale this year.

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Publisher:   Minotaur Books, 2013 (orig. pub. 2012)
Length:       364 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Series:       Max Tudor, #2
Setting:      England
Genre:       Mystery
Source:     I purchased this book.


12 comments:

  1. I think I do have a few books of this author on my shelves but do not know whether it is this series. I am not so enamoured of perfect heroes but will give the series a try, if it is there on the shelves. Thanks Tracy.

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    1. neer, G. M. Malliet also wrote a series starring Inspector St. Just, and I read two books in that series. One of them was Death of a Cozy Writer. I liked that series better than this one.

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  2. Sounds like a laugh Tracy and if you are in the right mood, why not? But I suspect not for me (I found Martha Grimes not especially to my liking and they sound like peas in a pod to me :) )

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    1. Like you say, Sergio, one's mood makes a difference. I read a good number of the Martha Grimes series at two different points in my life and liked them pretty well (not knowing how accurate the depiction of the UK was). Those are much more serious in tone than this series, as I remember them.

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  3. Never heard of this writer, Tracy, but it sounds great and glad you enjoyed it. Part of the fun for me in visiting your blog is the new writers I discover and of course most of the books here are cozy/spy reads which can be a bit of a comfort read if you're not into all the violence and stuff. --Keishon

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    1. These are lighter in tone than most books I read, Keishon, but I was entertained, so I consider that a win.

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  4. I know what you mean, Tracy, about a little too much perfection in characters. Still, this does sound like a solid read. And sometimes, it's nice to have something lighter and, as Keishon says, less violent.

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    1. The character of Max was OK but the author dwelled too much on his good points, Margot, and the story is far from realistic. But still fun.

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  5. Not an author I have previously heard of and not one I'll be adding to my reading piles. I'm glad you enjoyed it though.

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    1. It was fun for me, Col, but not one I think you would like.

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  6. I tried one by this author and wasn't that keen. I'd try another one - but then sometimes I think life is too short and there are so many books out there.

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    1. I do know what you mean, Moira. There are so many books I want to read -- and re-read. I did like the St. Just series better, but these keep me reading and entertained, and I think that is what any fiction book should do (for me anyway).

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