Fabulous Fiction Firsts #293 (Revised)

30,000 ft. over the Atlantic, the movies are mindless and sleep eludes you. Your best hope is a good book and this cozy mystery debut did not disappoint.

East bound, I was delighted with Wicked Autumn: a Max Tudor novel * by G. M. Malliet. It brings to mind the Three Pines Series by Louise Penny, with a idyllic English village setting and the usual "tangled alliances and animosities" found in small, insular communities. When the ever-unpleasant and bossy Wanda Batton-Smythe (think Hyacinth Bucket for those of you who like your humor British) is found dead at the Harvest Fayre, the suspects are many. Max Tudor, a former MI5 agent and the newly installed village vicar, finds himself quickly involved in the police investigation.

Winner of the 2008 Agatha Award for Death of a Cozy Writer (part of the St. Just Series) "G.M. Malliet serves up an irresistible English village—deliciously skewered—a flawed but likeable protagonist, and a brilliantly modern version of the traditional drawing room mystery" in this first of a projected cozy series. The sleuthing clergy frame would appeal to fans of the Clare Ferguson series by Julia Spencer-Fleming.

News Alert!!!! (November 1st)

Also just released is Canadian C.C. Benison's Twelve Drummers Drumming *, the first in a cozy series featuring the sleuthing Father Christmas (a.k.a. The Reverend Tom Christmas) - dedicated village (think St. Mary Mead) vicar, a retired magician (who still has a trick or two up his sleeves), and a single father mourning a recent loss.

Tight plotting, strong characterization, enchanting setting, "A crime novel that Agatha Christie might have been justly proud to claim as her own". ~ Margaret Maron

* = starred review