Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet © 2011 – St. Martin’s Press 2011 hardcover – English country village mystery – first in Vicar Max Tudor series
I read a review of this one at Steve Lewis’ Mystery*File website on Friday Forgotten Book day October 14. (see here) and decided to get it from the library.
In this first of what I assume will be a series, Max Tudor has been appointed the Vicar for Nether Monkslip and the surrounding villages. Late of MI5, a grim killing of his partner resulted in depression, a leave of absence and finally resignation. After some pointless wandering, he Hears The Call. He enters the Anglican Church and after schooling at Oxford plus the usual preparations and training is assigned as Vicar.
In a small, closed village, he is accepted fairly quickly and it is now three years since he arrived. The tranquil, simple life is about to be shattered, however: murder will soon be done.
Vicar Max Tudor and DCI Cotton, whom Max knows from past associations, work together to sort through the suspects and clues and finally the murderer is discovered.
I didn’t like this as much Curt J. Evans did (please see the review, if you haven’t already). Yes the humor is there and some laugh out loud moments, but when it comes to the plot, there are several points when information seems to come to Max from thin air, from no obvious – to the reader – source. It felt like the author left out some threads needed to make this a completely fair play mystery, and fair play is something I demand in this type of story. Finally the novel reaches a conclusion that, though it was apparently obvious to the Vicar, could only be guessed at by this reader. While I may have suspected the culprit, I had thin – if any – basis for that conclusion and that person was not the only one still under my suspicion.
I’d describe this one as “all right”. There are a lot of things to like here: the setting, village and characters within it, Max Tudor himself. The story telling let me down in the last third to quarter of the book, however. I’ll not go out of my way to read another in the series. I do like an occasional English country village mystery, but next time I’ll return to the source and read Christie or one of the other Golden Age authors. Perhaps it’s time for a re-reading of Murder at The Vicarage.