Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Haunted Season by G.M.Malliet

The Haunted Season is the fifth book in G.M. Malliet’s Max Tudor series. Max is a former MI5 agent who left after his partner was killed in front of him. Now an Anglican priest in the quaint village of Nether Monkslip, he is married to his soulmate Awena, a pagan and owner of the local New Age shop. They have come to terms with their different beliefs and have a new baby, Owen.

Much to the chagrin of his bishop, Max keeps getting involved in murders. This is a textbook cozy mystery series, full of quirky side characters, coincidences, and the occasional dead body to cause gossip and give the vicar an excuse to show off his deduction skills and intelligence.

None of the books have lived up to the first, but this one was pretty enjoyable. Life seems a little too perfect for Max, and Owen is the most ridiculously well behaved and intelligent baby. There is a nice nod about halfway (p. 183 in the digital advance reader copy) to Agatha Christie, the master of the cozy mystery:

“I was just thinking that the genius of Agatha Christie was not that she saw the universal traits of mankind, like Shakespeare, but that she saw we are all quite different people, with differing motivations.”

The book has some flaws. The murder itself – decapitation by a trip wire while the victim was riding a horse – seems unlikely to come off so seamlessly or to take off a head entirely.The author relies a little too heavily on coincidence (the new curate overhears two of the main players in the crime discussing it miles from Nether Monkslip, for example), and there is a long, long (too long) section in which details of the crime are explained by Max and Cotton to Awena. A scene in which Max runs towards danger while carrying his baby is ridiculous. I can’t believe Max wouldn’t have thought first of the baby’s safety. But I have these kinds of minor complaints about many cozy mysteries.

The book ended strongly, with the last line catching me off guard and piquing my interest about the next book in the series.

I read an advance reader copy of The Haunted Season. It will be published on October 6. The Galesburg Public Library owns many of G.M. Malliet’s books, in regular print, large print, and digital form. Wicked Autumn is the first book in the Max Tudor series.

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