G.M. Malliet, Wicked Autumn, 2011.
An entertaining murder-mystery set in a small English town, Wicked Autumn has much to recommend it.
The story revolves around Max, a former MI-5 agent turned Church of England vicar, who comes across the dead body of one of his parishioner’s not in hospital but in the village hall—and in circumstances that don’t quite make sense. After striking up a quick friendship with DCI Cotton, Max begins to investigate himself.
Malliet’s structure meanders through the small town and its characters, bouncing from one to the next as Max makes visits and discoveries. I found myself, professionally, being a bit concerned about his focus on investigation rather than on pastoral care, but the novel is a murder mystery, after all! We learn the quirks of the town’s denizens, and generally find ourselves amazed at just how self-centred the victim truly was.
The solution to the mystery comes as a bit of a surprise, despite the clues that make sense retrospectively—always nice to end a British mystery with the detective laying out the whole story for the reader, I suppose.
The novel was strong enough for me to place a hold at the library on the first book in her earlier mystery series, and I look forward to relaxing with it soon.