Death of a Cozy Writer: A St. Just Mystery
by G.M. Malliet
Review by Mary McElveen
MIDNIGHT INK Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780738712482
Date: 01 July 2008 List Price $13.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
A wildly dysfunctional upper-crust family, a country mansion, a compulsory weekend house party…stir in a few outsiders and enough bitterness to curdle the sunniest disposition and you can bet your collection of Agatha Christies that there's going to be a murder or two.
G.M. Malliet sets the scene for her sly look at the British cozy with a listing of her cast of characters and a first chapter worthy of the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest. This nod and wink to the genre having been accomplished, we are placed in the hands of the aptly named Detective Chief Inspector Arthur St. Just and his assistant Sergeant Fear.
The plot revolves around the fabulously-wealthy cozy writer, Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk, whose idea of entertainment is to change his will more often than he changes plotlines. His impending marriage to a woman with a somewhat shady past draws his self-serving children back home to protect their inheritances. Malliet assembles the customary assortment of bitter, alcoholic, addicted, downtrodden, and financially and/or morally bankrupt personalities (even throwing in an American or two), allows them to marinate in their own acidic conversation, then lets nature take its course.
Not one, but two murders follow, St. Just enters the picture, and we follow him through all the twists and turns of the Byzantine plot. It turns out (surprise!) that no one is exactly who you thought they were--but this novel delivers exactly what you hoped it would: a new packaging of the old formula, and a very enjoyable read.