Pagan Spring

Title: Pagan Spring (Max Tudor #3)

Author: G. M. Malliet

Read by: Michael Page

Category: Mystery

Audio published: Nov 13, 2013

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Vicar Max Tudor, reveling in his new-found personal happiness with Awena Owen, feels that life at the moment holds no greater challenge than writing his Easter sermon. With Awena away, he looks forward to a dinner that includes newcomers to the village like West End dramatist Thaddeus Bottle and his downtrodden wife Melinda. But when one of the dinner guests is found dead in the pre-dawn hours, Max knows a poisonous atmosphere has once again enveloped his perfect village of Nether Monkslip. Connections to long-ago crimes, some sparked by the paintings of a famous local artist, help Max unravel the clues – but can he restore peace to Nether Monkslip and still manage to finish his sermon?

Pagan Spring was my last book for 2013 and it was a nice way to end my reading year. This is the third in the series and I’ve been listening to them in order – one of the few series I’m caught up on.

Pagan Spring is a small English village mystery, which is a set-up I tend to enjoy. Quirky characters, secrets, gossip. Max is the vicar, but he’s also former MI5, which makes him a perfect sleuth. It’s a cozy mystery with clues gained from talking and observing. The murdered man is Thaddeus Bottle, who is not well-liked. He’s full of himself, has a tendency to steal and has had more than one affair.

The narrator, Michael Page, does a good job, not outstanding, but he blends into the story, which is what I want a reader to do. Some small parts, e-mails, were read by a woman, I thought, but I can’t see her name anywhere. The different voice for the e-mails provides a break and gives them a bit of extra significance that turns out to be fitting.

The clues to the mystery are there, but I felt like Max made a couple of jumps that weren’t quite reasonable. Of course, maybe that’s just thanks to his instincts. I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but the solution was rather touching and was a reminder that the past still affects the present.

I have a couple minor complaints. One is the romance between Max and Awena. I like them both, but it just doesn’t seem realistic. And I’m especially disappointed by the ending. I like mysteries, I enjoy romances, but I don’t want the romance to take over or complicate the mystery. I like it light and fun, not needing to be mulled over and discussed. I also don’t like Max’s remembering over and over the end of his MI5 career. It just gets old. Yes, I know it brought him to where he is, but do we need reminded over and over?

I enjoyed the story and the characters. It’s a nice mystery, not outstanding, but worth the time.