This latest offering in the Max Tudor series, from author G.M.Maliet, is set in the land of TV's Midsummer Murders and John Majors’ rose coloured idea of England, namely ‘cricket, warm beer and old ladies cycling to church’
Although the timeline is today the novel feels redolent of the 1970's in its portrayal of English village life. Set in the mythical surrounds of Nether Monkslide, the suspicious death of the unpopular head of the local branch of the Women’s Institute starts a confusing trail of suspicion among the many well drawn villagers who abound throughout.
And, in case we find the abundance of suspects confusing, the author has thoughtfully inserted a cast list of characters at the beginning.
Everyone is under suspicion, adding to the growing paranoia of the local folk. Wading in on the side of justice is local Anglican clergyman, Max Tudor, vicar of St. Edwold’s in Nether Monkslip. Max has a dark past as an ex MI5 operative. As he conducts his enquiries, he brings his expertise as a retired spook, to the aid of the young kinetic DCI Cotton who is officially there to solve the case on behalf of the local constabulary.
The plot thickens as various well portrayed suspects are introduced, right up to the final denouement of this closely plotted novel.
G, M. Maliet has a punchy style and, although this is a cosy novel, the wit and sharpness in her writing give it a vibrant, modern feel. No wonder the series has won such acclaim.
One is kept guessing to the end of a journey made all the more interesting by the words of the late American President Abe Lincoln, ‘Those that like this kind of thing, will like this kind of thing’ and that applies especially to those that like a murder mystery yarn.