A Demon Summer by G. M. MallietA Demon Summer by G. M. Malliet
Series: Max Tudor Mysteries #4
Published by Minotaur on October 7, 2014
Source: Minotaur
Genres: Mystery
Format: ARC
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In A Demon Summer, someone has been trying to poison the 15th Earl of Lislelivet. Since Lord Lislelivet has a gift for making enemies, no one—particularly his wife—finds this too surprising. What is surprising is that the poison was discovered in a fruitcake made and sold by the Handmaids of St. Lucy of Monkbury Abbey. Max Tudor, vicar of Nether Monkslip and former MI5 agent, is asked to investigate. But just as Max comes to believe the poisoning was accidental, a body is discovered in the cloister well.

Good points –

I like Max. He’s a good guy with a true calling who doesn’t judge others. For a not necessarily “Christian” mystery, I think it’s better at presenting religious lessons than some of the preachier ones. He makes sense as a detective, too, since he’s former MI5. It’s reasonable that the bishop would send him to investigate.

The abbey is a good setting and the nuns are an interesting lot. Each has a past, but those don’t count anymore, since they’ve joined the sisters. The nuns are walking a fine line between being separate from the world and making money by selling their products and having guests stay.

Max’s relationship with his pregnant girlfriend, Awena, stays in the background. I was afraid it would dominate this one after the end of #3, but it didn’t. Awena’s a great character, very in touch with nature and the seasons, but I don’t necessarily like an overly complicated romance to intrude on a mystery.

The final scene was wonderful and touching.

Bad points –

It was a little too reminiscent of Louise Penny’s recent novels. First, the abbey setting is awfully close to the monastery in A Beautiful Mystery. Second, Cohen’s verse about how the light gets in is repeated often, which of course reminded me of Penny’s novel with that title.

The solution is just too complicated. The relationships are all screwy and parts hinge on an event 20 years in the past that barely gets a passing mention. It feels unfair; there’s no way the reader could have figured out what was going on. Between treasure hunts, revenge, dying confessions, there was just too much. And the scene where you gather everyone together to point out the killer was long.

I would have like this one so much more if the solution had been different or the lead up to it had been better.

About G. M. Malliet

G.M. Malliet is the award-winning author of four St. Just mysteries, seven Max Tudor mysteries, the suspense novel WEYCOMBE, and numerous short stories collected in crime anthologies or published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and The Strand.  A new mystery series (AUGUSTA HAWKE) debuted in July 2022 and an 8th Max Tudor (THE WASHING AWAY OF WRONGS) arrives in 2023 from Little, Brown.

She was born into a military family and moved frequently during her childhood, which nurtured her love of travel. She has a B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in organizational psychology; she also received an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge in the U.K. and did further graduate study at Oxford University. Her main field of interest is the psychology of the creative mind.

She worked as a journalist and copywriter for USA TODAY, Thomson Publishing and PBS, pursuing novel writing in her free time. In 2008 her award-winning first mystery DEATH OF A COZY WRITER was published and fiction writing became her full-time career. She has since published dozens of books and short stories.


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