Wicked Autumn

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.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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7 Responses to Wicked Autumn

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    You mean Steve Lewis, not Smith.

    I’ve been wondering about this series since I read that review too.

  2. Murder will be done! I like that line. Sounds like a good book

  3. I’ve read most of Agatha Christie’s work. I have about a half-dozen titles that I’m saving. I’ll probably read one of those books per year until they’re gone.

  4. Richard says:

    Oops, thanks, Jeff, I corrected it.

  5. John says:

    I think it’s extremely well clued and fairly done, but much of it is subtle which is the best kind of clueing. In fact, I figured out the method and the culprit the instant the body was discovered. Everything is there, Rick. I reviewed this as well, though not as literate as Curt’s, and perhaps far too effusive. I think that Malliet is talented and imaginative and may be one of the saviors of the traditoinal mystery. Wicked Autumn is a long overdue throwback to the kind of mystery few people have the energy to write or plot. I’ll take Wicked Autumn any day over the shelves full of serial killer books that I’m utterly fed up with.

  6. Patti Abbott says:

    Sorry you were disappointed. Plotting is so important in this sort of mystery. You can’t get around it really.

  7. Richard says:

    I just don’t see it, John, even in retrospect. I had ideas about the method, I could see 3 people who had a sufficient motive, but the way it was worked out seems contrived, and to be any less so would have made it really obvious.

    Patti, if John is correct, it’s my lack, not the author’s. Maybe it was just me, but I really wanted to like this one and felt there were missing pieces. Maybe I wanted it to be too complicated.

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