Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Mystery of Autumn

Wicked Autumn

I have a confession to make. True-blue lifelong desert dwellers who are happiest above 110 degrees, avert your eyes if necessary. Okay, ready? Here goes:

I am ready for summer to be over.

Don't get me wrong, it’s been fun--but this is the time of year when I start getting wistful about putting on a sweater. I sniff the air on cool days to see if there's any trace of that spicy, October-y something hidden in the breeze. If you're like me and are waiting not-so-patiently for Tucson's lovely, nuanced cool-weather self to make its first appearance, you too might be looking for a seasonal read to get you in the mood for fall. While I wait for summer to wind itself down over the next few weeks, I’m getting a head start by snuggling up with a cozy mystery, G.M. Malliet’s Wicked Autumn.

This witty novel opens with an introduction to new vicar Max Tudor. When we meet him, Max has settled nicely into his first position as the vicar of St. Edwold's in Nether Monkslip, a sleepy and genteel village full of picturesque lanes and (these days) New Age specialty shops. While some people might find that sort of burg boring, Max will gratefully take all the benign normality he can get. You see, Max is a former MI5 agent, and the vicar thing is his fresh start after a career of secrecy and tiptoeing through the shadows. He now takes pleasure in his engagement with village community life, composing each week's sermon and working with the Women's Institute to plan the annual Harvest Fayre. Until, that is, the head of the Institute turns up dead. Whether he likes it or not, intrigue lurks behind the peaceful fa├žade of Nether Monkslip, and even though Max has traded his badge in for a collar, he can't resist trying to find the killer.

The story that follows is a great mystery with a cast of likable, entertaining characters and a satisfying array of possibilities that will keep you guessing. Who killed the victim, and why? Will Max's investigation ruin the bucolic new life he's built for himself in Nether Monkslip? And how will this calamity affect the future of the Harvest Fayre? Wicked Autumn is a perfect weekend read, equally well-suited to chilly evenings ahead and the rainy days we're treated to at the end of monsoon season. Especially recommended for fans of M.C. Beaton, Agatha Christie, Lillian Braun Jackson, and the Inspector Lewis mysteries.


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