Publisher: Midnight Ink, 2008
Genre: Mystery series
Award: 2008 Agatha Award for Best First Novel
My Rating: A
Summary from the publisher:
From deep in the heart of his eighteenth century English manor house, millionaire Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk writes mystery novels and torments his four spoiled children with threats of disinheritance. Tiring of this device, the portly patriarch decides to weave a malicious twist into his well-worn plot. Gathering them all together for a family dinner, he announces his latest blow – a secret elopement with the beautiful Violet… who was once suspected of murdering her husband.
Within hours, eldest son and appointed heir Ruthven is found cleaved to death by a medieval mace. Since Ruthven is generally hated, no one seems too surprised or upset – least of all his cold-blooded wife Lillian. When Detective Chief Inspector St. Just is brought in to investigate, he meets with a deadly calm that goes beyond the usual English reserve. And soon Sir Adrian himself is found slumped over his writing desk – an ornate knife thrust into his heart. Trapped amid leering gargoyles and stone walls, every member of the family is a likely suspect. Using a little Cornish brusqueness and brawn, can St. Just find the killer before the next-in-line to the family fortune ends up dead?
This is an extremely good first novel. To win the Agatha Award is a great honor, but with your first novel, its amazing. I’m sure Dame Agatha would be very proud. Death of a Cozy Writer has the feel of an Agatha mystery.
It’s a classic “drawing room” mystery. There is plenty of ugly, bloody death, but its so tastefully done that I’m sure no one got their hands dirty. Plus, there are plenty of suspects and they were all present when the murder occured, meaning it was an inside job. The mystery is definitely a mind-puzzle.
Our detective hero is Chief Inspector Detective St. Just. Along with his sidekick, Sergeant Fear, they methodically and intuitively gather the clues and deduce the murderer. I really liked both of these guys. They are different from Poirot or any of Christie’s sleuths. The Inspector is a little bit like Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache, but he’s a British version – cerebral and alone.
The author writes a complete story, which is great. The reader gets to see the plot from the perspective of all the characters in the story. Her descriptions and nuances were also perfect. If you love good mysteries written in the style of the old master, you’ll love this one. At the end, St. Just brought everyone together and explained who did it and all of the other secrets he uncovered. I like that.
This book is the beginning of a series. She has at least one other book already written. I’m looking forward to reading it.
About the author:
G.M. Malliet did post-graduate work at Oxford University after earning a graduate degree from the University of Cambridge, the setting for her earlier series, the St. Just mysteries. Raised in a military family, she spent her childhood in Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, and Hawaii and has lived in places ranging from Japan to Europe, but she most enjoyed living in the U.K.
Ms. Maillet now lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C. area, but visits Europe twice a year. In 2013 she will be a first-time grandmother. She writes full time every day but Sunday, and is currently writing a screenplay in addition to her mystery novels and short stories.
She changes her mind frequently about who would be the best actor to portray St. Just or Max Tudor. Currently, Hugh Grant for Max Tudor is tied with Colin Firth and Rufus Sewell.
Author’s website: G.M. Malliet
Photo credit: Joe Henson