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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

'A Demon Summer' by G.M. Malliet

Published by Constable,
7 May 2015.
ISBN 978-1-47210-626-1

Excerpts from the Rule of the Order of the Handmaids of St Lucy preface each chapter.  They explain cleverly the modern life of the nuns of Monksbury Abbey and the medieval nature of the life style of these nuns.  They have, however, developed a healthy mail order trade in foods, herbs, pottery and other handmade items.  The problem for Max is the poisoned fruit cake from the abbey which was apparently intended to poison Lord Lislelivet.  Max Tudor is the vicar of the nearby village of Nether Monkslip and, since he is an exMI5 agent, the bishop, who has oversight of the abbey, asks Max to investigate the poisoning incident.

Max reluctantly leaves the village of  Nether Monkslip and  his beloved  Arwena to  stay in the abbey because his bishop hopes that Max can discover what has happened.    There are also benefactors for the Order who are worried that their donations have not been used for the proper purpose, particularly since those monies have disappeared - these disgruntled individuals and Lord Lislelivet are all staying in the Abbey too.  By questioning all the nuns one by one Max builds a picture of possible events.  The whole thing takes a more serious turn when someone dies by falling in the well in the cloister.

Max eventually reaches a solution by staging a Hercule Poirot style gathering of all involved.

I like the style of this series - the apparently cosy village and, here, the abbey are presented with some delightfully wry comments on the reality of life there.  The lighthearted atmosphere in which the book begins is gradually deepened into a serious situation and a series of mysteries with very serious ramifications.  Max elucidates the whole thing with great panache!
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
There are 3 previous books about Max Tudor - all use titles referring to the seasons.  G. M. Malliet has written another series with 3 books which all begin Death of a ........

G M Malliet  won the Agatha Christie for best first novel for Death of a Cozy Writer, which initially won the Malice Domestic Grant..
Malliet, an inveterate traveler, did post-graduate work at Oxford University after earning a graduate degree from the University of Cambridge, the setting for her earlier series, the St. Just mysteries. She has lived in places ranging from Japan and Hawaii to Europe, but she most enjoyed living in the U.K. She now lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C. area, but frequently travels in Europe. She writes full time and is currently writing a screenplay in addition to her mystery novels and short stories.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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