Skip to main content

CR3 #69: Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

(St. Martin's Press was kind enough to send me an advance copy of this book via a giveaway at Goodreads.com. Fear not--my scathingly honest criticism cannot be swayed by free gifties.)

Wicked Autumn reminds me very strongly of an Agatha Christie mystery. It takes place in a small English village in the countryside, the protagonist is somewhat unlikely (a MI5 spy-turned-vicar), the murder victim is almost universally disliked, and there is no sex, no swearing, and nothing even the slightest bit provocative.

I don't mean to imply that the book was bad. On the contrary, it was a very serviceable mystery story. Max Tudor--former spy and now the vicar of Nether Monkslip--finds himself at the center of a mystery when the town's pushiest, most unpleasant society matron turns up murdered during the local harvest festival. There's no dearth of suspects, since Wanda Batton-Smythe had a wonderful way of making people hate her with very little effort. Although Max wants to stay out of the whole thing, his MI5 instincts can't help but draw him in.

The characters (aside from Max himself, who is the tiniest bit dull) are the kind of charming eccentrics that populate BBC sitcoms, and the plot proceeds along at a logical speed. The clues were available, but not obvious, and the solution to the mystery was not shocking or out of left field. I didn't figure it out until Max did, which is a win for any mystery story. I thought Max's back story should either have been more prominent or referred to less, since it didn't really add much to the narrative. I suppose since this is ostensibly the first in a series, it was intended to be some added exposition to develop the character. I felt that his past was a little misused--he was a charming, witty, and very sharp vicar, but for a former spy he seemed a bit dim.

As I said before, this is not a bad book at all. It is exactly the kind of book my grandmother loves, and it would absolutely be appropriate for slightly older children as well. However, I personally found it a bit tame for my taste.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CBR11 #2 - YES. THIS. -- Nothing is Okay by Rachel Wiley

I have a confession to make: I am a monster. No, not the kind who stampedes through Tokyo (though #goals) or the kind that lurks outside your window at night. I am dog-earer. I know, a shiver ran up the spine of book lovers everywhere--I could feel you all cringing. I know, it's a bad habit. But when I read (poetry especially) I like to be able to mark the page where I found something really striking, so I can double back and find it later. When it comes to my books, a turned down corner means "HERE! THERE'S SOMETHING IMPORTANT HERE!"

I'm telling you this dirty secret of mine so that you'll understand what it means when I say that by the time I got through Nothing Is Okay, nearly every other page had a bent corner. Some were bent over twice because there was something valuable to me on both sides of a single page.

I discovered Rachel Wiley after someone posted a video of her performing her poem "Ten Honest Thoughts On Being Loved By A Skinny Boy," a…

CBR9 #6: Crystal Flowers: Poems and a Libretto by Florine Stettheimer

I love traveling alone, and one of the things I like to do on my trips is go to museums. I just dig learning things I didn't know, I guess. The problem--when it comes to cities I've visited before--is that I have often already seen the better-known museums. And when it comes to New York City, I've worked my way through MOMA, the Met, the Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim, and several of the other most well-known institutions. So this last time I visited, I decided to branch out and visit a couple I'd never heard of before.

One of the three museums I visited on my last trip was The Jewish Museum of New York City. Now before you ask, I'm not Jewish. But like I said, I enjoy learning things, and this museum just happened to be near the location of a theater where I was going to be seeing a show in the afternoon.

It was a Friday afternoon in August, and when I arrived, I was informed that due to renovations, only one exhibit would be open. I was disappointed, b…

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…