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Max Tudor #1

Wicked Autumn

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Max Tudor, former MI5 agent, has adapted well to his post as vicar of St. Edwold’s in the idyllic village of Nether Monkslip. Wanda Batton-Smythe, highly vocal and unpopular president of the Women’s Institute, turns up dead at the Harvest Fayre. Peanut allergy looks accidental, but Max has many suspects for murder.

297 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

G.M. Malliet

32 books618 followers
Award-winning author G.M. Malliet attended Oxford University and holds a graduate degree from the University of Cambridge. She now lives in the US.

She is represented by literary agent Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group, New York. Contact information for Mr. Gottlieb can be found at www.gmmalliet.com/contact.html, where you can also subscribe to her newsletter.

Follow her Amazon author page for book release updates.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 999 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,385 reviews7,088 followers
March 12, 2022
*3.5 stars*

Although the timeline is set in more recent times, the novel feels redolent of the 1970's in its portrayal of English village life. Set in the mythical village of Nether Monkslip, the suspicious death of the unpopular head of the local branch of the Women’s Institute starts a confusing trail of suspicion among the many well drawn villagers who abound throughout.

Everyone is under suspicion, adding to the growing paranoia of the local folk. Wading in on the side of justice is local Anglican clergyman, Max Tudor, vicar of St. Edwold’s in Nether Monkslip. Max has a dark past as an ex MI5 operative. As he conducts his enquiries, he brings his expertise as a retired spook, to the aid of the young DCI Cotton, who is officially there to solve the case on behalf of the local constabulary.

The plot thickens as various well portrayed suspects are introduced, right up to the final denouement of this closely plotted novel. 
Although this is a cosy novel, the wit and sharpness in the author’s writing give it a vibrant, modern feel.

One is kept guessing to the end of a journey made all the more interesting by the words of the late American President Abe Lincoln, ‘Those that like this kind of thing, will like this kind of thing’ and that applies especially to those that like a murder mystery yarn.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,894 reviews1,927 followers
November 16, 2018
Rating: 3.125* of five

The Publisher Says: What could be more dangerous than cozy village life in the English countryside?

Max Tudor has adapted well to his post as vicar of St. Edwold's in the idyllic village of Nether Monkslip. The quiet village seems the perfect home for Max, who has fled a harrowing past as an MI5 agent. Now he has found a measure of peace among urban escapees and yoga practitioners, artists and crafters and New Agers. But this new-found serenity is quickly shattered when the highly vocal and unpopular president of the Women's Institute turns up dead at the Harvest Fayre. The death looks like an accident, but Max's training as a former agent kicks in, and before long he suspects foul play.

Max has ministered to the community long enough to be familiar with the tangled alliances and animosities among the residents, but this tragedy surprises and confounds him. It is impossible to believe anyone in his lovely village capable of the crime, and yet given the victim, he must acknowledge that almost everyone had probably fantasized about killing Wanda Batton-Smythe.

As the investigation unfolds, Max becomes more intricately involved. Memories he'd rather not revisit are stirred, evoking the demons from the past which led him to Nether Monkslip. In 'Wicked Autumn', 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.

My Review: Sexy, haunted Maxen "Max" Tudor, former MI5 (domestic spying branch, think FBI not CIA, which any Bond fan knows is MI6) superagent and present-day Anglican priest and vicar of Nether Monkslip, revels in his obscure village's somewhat habitual somnolence, broken only by tempests in the teapot of the Women's Institute {think Junior League}. It's run ruthlessly by one Wanda Barton-Smythe, a harpy with no discernable good qualities except for her fatal weakness. Her murder unburies secrets and lies, causes no end of trouble for the allegedly retired Max because {naturally} the cops of Monkslip-super-Mare, the big town in the area, discover his past and rope him into the investigation. Who suspects the Vicar of working with the police, after all?

The village cast of crazies all walk through their days with Max, all spent at the Harvest Festival so ably and unpleasantly organised {oh dear, the Britishness of it all hath infected me} by the late Mrs. Barton-Smythe {B-S, get it? Know what I mean? She's a goer!...aaarrrggghhh it's happening again!}, only, well...let's be charitable towards all and say they're forgetful and leave out some details. Well, a LOT of details. Not all of them innocent.

Max solves the crime, brings the murdering swine to justice, and fills us in on his backstory by flashing back to the reason he decided to become a priest in the first place. He doesn't appear to be a pedophile, which is a nice change of pace. Wait, that's the Catholics...well, anyway, let's just go with the fact that his reasons for doing what he does now will either make you like him more, or strike you as silly. {I'm in Camp B.} He's given a couple of love interests, one of whom he clearly favors over the other, and the village is gifted with the usual suspects for a cozy Brit-stery: Nosy old schoolmarm, shop-lady with a troubled past, doctor who's better than he should be for such a small place, and so forth. Fans of cozy Brit-steries are urged to pre-order. It will fulfill your expectations ably.

My expectations, not so much. Competently written and plotted, the book misses out on every opportunity to surprise or jolt or do more than atmosphere-ize the deeply experienced cozy reader. Nether Monkslip is one of those towns that will, like Lumby, Washington, and its American cousins, always seem wrapped in a dense fog of Atmosphere and Sense of Place. That's fine, I want that, and even expect it from this genre; but PLEASE give me more than just that! St. Mary Mead, Miss Marple's homeplace, was a lot more than just a swirling-point for Atmosphere, even though we saw it fairly seldom. Agatha Christie gave it some *oomph* and I want modern cozy-ers to do the same!


And now for the obligatory grumble: When the reason for Wanda's death is revealed, her suddenly-revealed-to-be-gay son and his lover being greedy, it was such a cheap, long-telgraphed cop-out that I actually considered not reviewing the book at all. Really, Mme. Malliet? Couldn't think of ANYthing better than that? I don't think you tried hard enough, then.
Profile Image for Leah.
1,389 reviews210 followers
July 10, 2013
A tribute to the Golden Age…of America

President of the Women’s Institute and self-proclaimed leader of all village ventures, Wanda Batton-Smythe is overbearing and rude to all. Nobody likes her, but does someone hate her enough to kill her? When she is found dead during the Harvest Fayre, local MI5-agent-turned-vicar Max Tudor suspects foul play…

This is a fun take on the Golden Age mystery with much to recommend it. Well written and with a good deal of mild humour, the book nods repeatedly towards Agatha Christie and the author is clearly trying to emulate that style, with some success. Max Tudor is a likeable protagonist, who has left MI5 after becoming disillusioned. Following a road to Damascus moment, he has come late to his calling as vicar and brings his worldly knowledge to bear on this mystery. Some of the villagers are well fleshed out, though there is a tendency towards stereotyping.

The plot is shrouded in mystery till the very end and although some clues are given, really the dénouement relies too much on a twist that the reader could not have known, so not as fair as most Golden Age mysteries were. The book is also a bit over-padded with unnecessary descriptions of the village, of what characters were wearing, even of Max’s backstory – I felt it could have lost roughly a third of its 300 pages and been better for it.

Overall, though, an enjoyable read that would certainly encourage me to read more of the author’s work and deserving of a 4-star rating…

…that is, if I were American. As a Brit, however, the constant Americanisation of the book grated hugely. This is after all a book about an English village written by an author who spent a considerable period of time living and studying in England. Most Brits (myself included) wouldn’t know who Cotton Mather is, wouldn’t nickname someone the Great White Oprah, wouldn’t refer to someone as Yenta (there aren’t usually too many Yiddish speakers in your average English village) and certainly wouldn’t plow their fields. We don’t plow, we plough! And all of those references come from just the first couple of chapters. If the author wanted to write about the US then she should have done so, but if writing about England then it’s surely not too much to ask that the cultural references should be English. We even had references to ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ – hardly a major talking point over the village tea tables in a country where the policy never existed.

Rant over! Recommended as an enjoyable read to anyone who can tolerate the mish-mash of misplaced cultural references. For me, however, this problem means the book only rates as 3 stars.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Constable & Robinson.

Profile Image for Deanna.
928 reviews52 followers
July 22, 2017
3.25 Adequate English cozy mystery

+English mystery, so it gets standard bonus points from me.

+Though cozy isn't a genre I read much, this one isn't sweet, cute, or overly domestic or hen-clutch-ish. That makes it unusual for a cozy, as I know them, so it's palatable enough for my tastes for a very light read.

+The MI5 officer turned village priest is a potentially interesting concept that sort of worked well enough for the kind of story that it is.

-The crime is uber cliche and pretty dull

-The solution was equally cliche and I guessed the who and why very quickly--not hard because it's a cliche solution to a cliche crime mystery, and because the author strongly signaled the solution throughout. Further, it was the only thing among a pile of obviously red herrings that was going to work. The only mystery remained the how.

-The investigation unfolded at a plodding, linear pace, with barely a twist or punchy plot sweetener to keep it going. The amateur sleuth-priest went about his investigation without subtlety or finesse, which made the full cooperation of all the villagers pretty unbelievable, and his past career as a tough MI5 agent questionable as well. The ending twist that brings the how into place is meant to surprise or maybe even shock. Except that it's pretty cliche itself and not at all shocking.

I already have the next couple of books in this series. I'll go ahead with the next one. It's the kind of light read that I keep in my audiobook library as my bedtime story, to lull an insomniac to sleep, and back to sleep, and back to sleep if I'm lucky.

Bedtime stories are best when they're not so yawny or silly that they're irritating because I can't engage with them at any level. Nor can they be so suspenseful, interesting, or upsetting that the adrenaline kicks in so my brain would rather listen than drift off. Of course the narrator can't be too strident, shrill, or melodramatic.

There's definitely a sweet spot for bedtime stories--a good, or good enough, read that isn't really exciting. There should be a genre label for that.
Profile Image for Leslie Ray.
177 reviews95 followers
May 27, 2021
What a delightful read and a really good mystery! After I started this, I went right out and bought the rest of the series. It is set in the fictional village of Nether Monkslip in England, with a handsome vicar, Max Tudor who is a former MI5 agent. It is the intertwining of Max's single status and nice looks that carry a fun side story in addition to the question of who murdered Wanda Batton-Smythe. She is the head of the Nether Monkslip's Women's Institute. Her personality and demeanor resemble her battle-ax name, and no one is really that upset at her passing. DCI Cotton is dispatched to solve this murder and with knowing Max's background and his stature in the community, he is soon enmeshed in this upset to a normally tranquil village. The characters are well developed and very typical. Along with the picturesque setting, this was quite enjoyable.
Profile Image for Carol.
325 reviews863 followers
July 23, 2022
This is my idea of the perfect summer beach-read book. Malliet's writing style is easy to like. The characters were generally well-rounded (excepting the recently departed murder victim) - although I was quite glad for the summary of characters at the front of the book. The mystery worked and, unlike many an otherwise satisfying cozy mystery, the culprit wasn't telegraphed to the reader before the half-way mark. So - if you're looking for a pleasant English countryside mystery diversion - and a break from books that are too sad, too demanding, too violent, too whatever, consider Wicked Autumn as the novel version of a 3-day cleanse. You won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for benebean.
957 reviews3 followers
December 26, 2013
I really wanted to like this book, but in the end the characterization of the main character as an Anglican priest just drove me crazy. Now, in fairness, I've never lived in England and maybe Anglican priests really do act like this-- but the clergy this side of the pond, and the clergy of other books set in the UK do not. To be more specific, Christianity is an exclusive religion in that it doesn't teach that it doesn't matter which religion you pick, as if any of them are fine. Jesus said in the Bible "I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me." This is very basic so it makes no sense to me to read about a fictional Anglican priest going on about the Anglican church is accepting of all religions and speculating that if he had wanted to be more spiritual he would have become a Hindu monk. Also, the protagonist seemed to lack any semblance of a lively relationship with God. God was not a part of his day in that his decisions were made to please himself without thought to what would please God. Seeing as pastors are supposed to be helping others develop their relationship with God I don't see how he really could be characterized as anything close to a competent priest when he didn't seem to have much of relationship with God himself. I mean over here on this side of the pond, even the corrupt pastors/religious leaders have to pretend to be close to God and care about what His will is.

So that said, I would have been fine with the book the protagonist had been in a different profession. I mean outside the clergy, I could see characters believing all sorts of different things. I guess it also didn't help that I wanted to think of this as a modern day cadfael mystery. But seeing as the priestly characterization was so mucked up... it really fell short.
Profile Image for Liz Woods.
2 reviews2 followers
March 22, 2016
I appreciate that Ms Malliet loves the UK and wants to pay her homage to its tradition of village crime novels, but.....If you're going to do that - at least get things right! UK students write essays, not 'papers'. We eat 'wheat toast' but we don't call it that. The Queen is 'The Queen' not Queen Elizabeth. We ensure that things might happen, we don't 'insure' them in that way. I could go on. Too many gaffes. Throws book away in disgust.
Profile Image for Ivonne Rovira.
1,903 reviews199 followers
July 9, 2013
G.M. Malliet's probably better known for her Chief Inspector St. Just mysteries, including the Agatha Award-winning Death of a Cozy Writer. Take St. Just, give him a shadowy (if implausible) MI-5 past, and slap an Anglican dog collar on him, and you have village vicar Max Tudor, the protagonist of Wicked Autumn, the first in a planned series. They're virtually indistinguishable, right down to the philosophical ruminations and the shy schoolboy-like romances.

Not that it matters. I enjoyed the two St. Just mysteries that I've read so far, and I enjoyed this one. Unsurprisingly, Tudor proves to be just as likeable as St. Just, and the mystery a better one than that in either Death of a Cozy Writer or its sequel, Death and the Lit Chick: A St. Just Mystery -- both of which, while fun, slipped into being over the top -- just shy of cliché really. Malliet keeps a more restrained hand on her characters here, and the resulting book is better as a result. I doubted that I would like the spy-turned-Anglican priest Max Tudor, but I actual prefer the Tudor novels more, and now I can't wait to start the sequel, A Fatal Winter. (Does the use of seasons in the title mean that this series will end its run after four novels? Ms. Malliet, say it isn't so!)
Profile Image for Julie  Durnell.
1,013 reviews97 followers
November 30, 2020
A solid 4 star read! I went into this with low expectations and was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Max was probably one of the least things I liked about the book however. But his methods in talking with the suspects was done well. I really liked all the townsfolk and their shops or trades and was hoping none of them would be the murderer of a particularly nasty and overbearing woman. Can't give it all away but it was a well done mystery for the first in a series.
Profile Image for Juli.
1,879 reviews474 followers
June 10, 2020
I have had the Max Tudor mystery series on my TBR pile for some time. I am sure most fellow reading enthusiasts will understand exactly what I mean when I say my TBR is ponderous and it takes quite awhile for great books to find their way to the top. I wish this series had found its way out of the chaotic lists of my "to read'' pile much much sooner! I very much enjoyed this first book in the series!

The basics: After a career with MI5, Max Tudor decided he wanted to follow a totally different, less violent, calling. He became a Vicar. Placed at St Edwold's in the village of Nether Monkslip, he expects his former career as an agent is far, far behind him. When a member of the local Women's Institute is killed during the annual Harvest Fayre, the Vicar realizes he has to pull together the skills he honed as an agent to help catch a murderer.

The plot and characters in this book have a bit of Agatha Christie flavor to them. Idyllic English village. Simple folk. Secrets hiding. I really felt sympathy for Max as he had to eye each village resident with suspicion, even if he really wanted the killer to not be a local villager. The mystery moved at a good pace. There was plenty of character and place development. And the suspense held up to the very end. This story definitely kept my attention from start to finish. I will definitely be reading more of this series!

I listened to the audio book version of this story. Narrated by Michael Page, the audio is just over 8 hours long. Page reads at a nice pace, and has a pleasing voice. Very entertaining audio book! I already have book 2, A Fatal Winter, checked out on Hoopla! I want to know what happens next in Nether Monkslip!
Profile Image for Joan Curtis.
Author 11 books193 followers
May 18, 2014
Wicked Autumn debuts in a typical English village with the first sentence grabbing my attention: Wanda Batton-Smythe, head of the women's Institute of Nether Monkslip, liked to say she was not one to mince words." Captivated by this sentence, I kept reading.
The author paints a very nice picture of the English village full of delightful characters. Malliet provided a list of those characters at the beginning of the book in order to help our feeble minds keep up with everything. The best part of this book was the main character, the local vicar, Max Tudor. He, in fact, carries the story.

There are many things I liked about this book and many things I found less appealing. As I've said the lead sleuth compelled me to keep reading. He's an ex-MI5 agent turned priest. How juicy is that? And, apparently he's quite "dishy"--to use a British term. I liked the way the author sprinkled in the back story to help us better understand Max. She didn't do a back story dump.

So, what did I find less appealing? The story moves at a snails pace. I found myself nodding off too many times. But, even more importantly, were the amateur writing errors. For example, point of view was violated on several occasions. Here's one: "I'm not, as a matter of fact," he said, thinking fleeting of his days undercover when he had ruthless tramped down any such dangerous emotion. And in the next paragraph, But she looked at him levelly: at the attractive crinkle of lines his slightly downturned eyes, at the normally good-humored curve of his mouth. . .
Two point's of view on the same page without a break. We call his head hopping. I found this frustrating as a reader.

I wouldn't call the next complaint an amateur error, but I would call it "cheap" writing. That's when the author takes us out of the action by reminding us she knows more than we do. She did this at the end of a chapter when she wrote: Much later he was to wonder, more than once, if he'd been wrong. This is "cheap" because the reader can't foresee into the future. The author would have served us better by omitting that sentence.
Will I read another Max Tudor mystery? I'm not sure. My hope is the first one had certain problems because it was the first--like a new car. Perhaps Milliet will get the kinks out. Again, I loved the main character who I know can carry a series. And, I loved the setting. My suggestion is if you want to try this one, read it with caution and right before bedtime!
Profile Image for Mary Ronan Drew.
872 reviews101 followers
January 5, 2018
Father Max Tudor has been the vicar at St Edwold's in Nether Monkslip for three years and he has been warmly welcomed into what he perceives as a kind of Eden after his eventful years with MI5. But all is not well in his little town as he discovers when the chairman of the Women's Institute, a much disliked busybody, is murdered on the day of the Harvest Fayre she worked so hard to make a success. I might add that this is the most unusual method of murder I've encountered in all my years of reading mysteries.

The plot is excellent, the characters just what one wants in a village mystery, and the reader will find appealing this clerical amateur detective, not to mention Detective Chief Inspector Cotton whom he assists in solving the crime. Unfortunately, the author feels it necessary to lecture the reader about politics in the Church of England (which she gets all wrong) and the importance of religious tolerance (not something the Anglicans need to be lectured about.)

However, this series, of which this is the first, looks promising and I will be on the lookout for the second book, A Fatal Winter, which will be out some time in 2012.
Profile Image for Soňa.
704 reviews48 followers
September 17, 2019
Táto kniha je prvou v sérii o Maxovi Tudorovi, bývalom vyšetrovateľovi MI5, ktorý sa stal kňazom a presťahoval sa na anglický vidiek, kde dúfal, že nájde kľud, pokoj a hlavne odpočinok od podozrení, obvinení a hlavne mŕtvol.
Takto nejak by sme mohli začať tento príbeh...a on skutočne pokojne plynie opismi postáv, dediny, príprav jarmoku a podobne. Teda ak nerátame fakt, že to celé odštartuje najnesympatickejšia postava knihy… a áno, hádate správne, aj budúca obeť. I keď podľa opisu by som čakala skoršiu akciu, mŕtvolka sa objaví až v 9. kapitole, na strane 80. Ako prosím… Z 280 strán? A len jedna? Smutné :) asi mi škodí, občasné zhliadnutie CSI, NCIS, Law & Order a podobne orientovaných seriálov. 
Aj po objavení zavraždenej sa tempo príbehu až tak veľmi nemení a Max sa akosi prirodzene stáva externou rukou hlavného vyšetrovateľa. Postupne sa rozpráva so všetkými podozrivými, viac či menej podozrivými, teda vlastne všetci sú dosť podozriví, keďže Wanda bola osina v zadnej časti. Napriek tomu sa kniha dobre číta a príjemne plynie. 
Záverečné odhalenie je skôr taká zhoda udalostí ako plánovaný zámer, áno druhú stranu, je to kombinácia postáv, ktoré som nerátala medzi hlavných podozrivých. Hviezdičky idú dole ,a pridanie temnej minulosti hlavného hrdinu, čo podľa mňa nemalo na dej zásadný vplyv, zvažujem či to vôbec malo nejaký vplyv…. Skôr nie ako áno. Tak isto epilóg bola zbytočná kapitola. Na druhú stranu celá kniha zaváňa holdom kráľovnej detektívok Agathe čo je pre ňu plus. A odohráva sa v Anglicku, čo nám anglofilom vždy zlepší deň:)
Celkové hodnotenie, pohodová detektívka s jednou mŕtvolou a množstvom podozrivých s možným motívom. Neurazí ale ani nepretrhne spánok.

Prvá veta: Wanda Batton- Smytheová, predsedníčka ženského spolku v Nether Monkslip, vždy zdôrazňovala, že ona si veru servítku pred ústa nedáva.
Posledná veta: Niečo mu však hovorilo, že tentoraz to bude iné.
Profile Image for La Tonya  Jordan.
289 reviews89 followers
December 4, 2016
Max Tudor - Anglican priest, former M15 agent, and village heartthrob - investigates the murder of Wanda Batton-Smythe. Wanda is a resident of Nether Monkslip a sleepy United Kingdom town where a murder had not been committed in centuries. Wanda was known for her bluntness and rudeness, many thought of killing her in jest. But, someone actually did.

The evidence starts to pile up. But, the pieces do not fit together until Lydia Lace, an acolyte, at St. Edwold's church faints after she sees the killer. Max Tudor is then able to solve the crime and confront the killer inside the house of God. A good read.


So the ideally suited Cudwells could wait; their coming to him was formality only. Here was a new case, a wrong to be righted. A problem to be solved. A villain to be outwitted. A blight on the village to be eradicated.

The garden at the vicarage would soon wear a carpet of wet and dangerously slippy leaves if someone didn't see to it soon.

He took a deep swallow of his wine. The chances were good that someone in his bran-muffin-eating, antioxidant guzzling, holistic congregation was guilty of murder.

Profile Image for Dawn Michelle.
2,333 reviews
October 21, 2017

Oh I really enjoyed this book!! I was a little concerned when it was picked for our book club, but those fears were quickly put to rest as I started reading this book. In fact, midway through this book, I ordered the second one. I think this will be a great addition to my mystery series that I truly enjoy.

Max Tudor, local MI-5 agent turned Vicar/Priest in the village of Nether Monkslip [there are a TON of Monkslips in this book; THAT was the only thing that bothered me; trying to keep up with all of them] is really delightful and I really loved having a male main character that is not a perfect man, a man who knows he is where he is supposed to be, but still thinks wistfully of the time he previously spent in service to Queen and country - he is such a great, imperfect main character.

The mystery is very good [I really had no idea and never saw that coming] and I love all the external characters as well. It will be fun to see how these books proceed.

I recommend this book highly; especially if you like good British mysteries.
Profile Image for Judy.
428 reviews102 followers
December 5, 2015
I enjoyed some sections of this mystery, the first in a series set in a Midsomer Murders-type village, but overall I found it a disappointment. The detective, Max Tudor, is an intriguing character - a former secret agent who has created a new life as a vicar, yet can't forget his former training. There are also some good witty lines. Unfortunately, though, many of the villagers are painfully stereotyped and some of the humour doesn't work all that well, to me anyway.

I started off listening to the audiobook of this story, but found it very slow in that format, so switched to the paperback. However, I still found it rather stodgy, with over-long descriptions of things like the design of someone's bathroom and the pattern on someone else's sofa covers. Also, it's unfortunate that a book supposedly set in the UK is so full of US slang and expressions.
Profile Image for Jackie.
764 reviews23 followers
January 18, 2020
Something just didn’t do it for me in this book... I honestly didn’t like the main character that much! I’ve been told the series gets better so I will try book 2!
2 reviews
July 4, 2011
Father Brown meets James Bond!

Okay, perhaps a G.K. Chesterton - Ian Fleming collaboration is rather far-fetched, but were they able to collaborate, they might have produced something akin to G. M. Malliet's stalwart hero Max Tudor.

I should confess right off that I'm well disposed toward the Cozy Mystery, even with its associated expectations. Generally set in an English village, Cozies require a cast of quirky characters, a protagonist who may be a professional police officer/detective (or a little old lady), one or more murders utterly bereft of the vulgar language and garishly excessive descriptions of violence that figure in most contemporary mysteries/thrillers, and a cast of multiple suspects. But most of all, Cozy Mysteries must contain that ineffable British atmosphere. If you are familiar with Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers, you will be no stranger to this category. The Golden Age of mysteries. You can almost hear Poirot's sidekick Captain Hastings exclaim, "I say!."

And thus we come to G.M. Malliet, one of the very few contemporary writers to capture the essence of the Cozy Mystery. After writing several such mysteries featuring her protagonist St. Just, Ms. Malliet has changed publishers and thus a new hero was necessitated, this one an Anglican priest formerly of MI-5 (sort of the British FBI), with a haunted past, naturally. So, let's go down the list. Current or Former police officer (or little old lady): check! English village: check! Quirky local characters: check! Mild violence and language: check! English village atmosphere: check!

The author takes a humorous approach to the cozy mystery genre - the alert reader might come upon an occasional wry allusion to Christie. But this is an adroitly plotted novel, make no mistake. That said, Malliet's focus is on character and sense of place, and she has succeeded fully on both counts. This is a novel to be savored.

I won't summarize the story other than to reveal that an unlikely murder occurs in a sleepy English village. You'll have to read Wicked Autumn to discover more, and I do strongly urge you to do so. This promises to be the first of a long and successful mystery series, and I suspect Ms. Malliet is hard at work on the next installment. I, for one, can't wait.

This is a review of an advance readers' edition.
44 reviews2 followers
February 10, 2012
As the first in an intended series, quite a bit of this book was devoted to a leisurely set-up so thorough that a careful reader could find his way if dropped suddenly into the center of the village, and could probably recognize many of the characters on the street. No map is necessary (although one would have been delightful.) The cast of characters is listed, so we can probably expect to meet most of them in subsequent books - unless they're killed off first.

Although the lanes are still narrow and some of the buildings may lean a little, Nether Monkslip has had a bit of an update since the days of the traditional cozy. Most of the businesses in town do a brisk internet business in items from antiques to hand-knitted designer sweaters to marzipan candies. Father Max, the new Vicar, formerly of MI5, thought he had found an idyllic place to scrub away the memories that still haunted him.

Of course every pudding has its lumps, and Nether Monkslip's is wealthy Wanda Batton-Smythe, formidable self-appointed Leader of the Community and head of the Womens' Institute. As the book opens, she is busily planning the Harvest Fayre; perfectly sure of how it should be run, running roughshod over any and all other opinions. Are we unbearably surprised when she shows up dead in the midst of the Fayre?

This is an enjoyable fair-play spoof on the mysteries of the Golden Age, with occasional flashes of well placed laugh-out-loud humor. I was a little concerned at how much of Max's past the author revealed in this first book; will he continue to be as intriguing with his angst out of the bag (at least to the reader), so to speak?

I will certainly read the next book to find out.

The author has published a charming interactive online map of Nether Monkslip here:http://gmmalliet.weebly.com/excerpt.html
Well worth a look!
Profile Image for Kathryn.
844 reviews
July 6, 2016
This is the second series of Anglican vicars turned detectives that I have started in the last couple of months! This does mean that avoiding comparisons is next to impossible...

This one was recommended to me by a family member, and besides knowing that it was about an ex-MI5 agent who became a parish priest and then got mixed up in murders, I didn’t read the blurb to find out the details of what it was about. Despite this, it was fairly clear from the outset who the murder victim was going to be, and the means used to bring about the victim’s death. Not that this detracted from my enjoyment.

Adding to my enjoyment was the map in the front and back covers. I like books with a map of the village. I like being able to picture the characters walking to and from this house and that shop.

But I didn’t like other aspects - such as the fact that, although an Anglican vicar, Max Tudor’s beliefs are not quite orthodox, and that he appears to have attained his position by hiding his unorthodox beliefs. Also the writing felt a little clunky at times - I didn’t guess the murderer, but I could see the direction the story was going in before it got to each point.

I will be interested to see if the writing improves with further books in the series.
Profile Image for Daniel Myatt.
592 reviews47 followers
November 6, 2019
What a load of twaddle this book was! I honestly think it's the worst book I've read EVER!

1. If you want to write a story set in an English Country Village use English English not American English as we certainly don't have "Fall" we have Autumn.

2. A priest who was once an M15 agent! Really?

3. It's jam packed with Clichés the author obviously had a bet with her self to see how many she could fit it.

I could go on but I don't want to waste more of my time on this terrible, terrible book!

If I could I'd give it NO stars 👎
Profile Image for Gerry.
Author 43 books92 followers
November 15, 2014
There is a great start to this mystery novel set in the village of Nether Monkslip where retired MI5 agent Max Tudor has become vicar of St Edwold's. It is a quiet, idyllic village and Max thinks that he has found the perfect place to escape his harrowing past and enjoy a life of peace among the mixture of eccentric, retiring and sometimes fractious and argumentative villagers.

He is preparing for the Harvest Fayre with the various characters involved; the formidable, bumptious Wanda Batton-Smythe, who is in charge of Fayre arrangements and rules with an iron fist; the timid Lily Iverson; tea room owner Elka Garth, who is pressured by Wanda to donate her services for the Harvest Fayre; chef and restaurateur Guy (it rhymes with key) Nicholls, who was also pressured into giving his services to the Fayre; Frank Cuthbert, a local author; the long-suffering Major Batton-Smythe; Jasper Batton-Smythe, a long absent son of Wanda and the Major; the prim and proper Miss Agnes Pitchford, retired schoolmistress and one or two others. Their relationships are fully explored in the exciting opening chapters of the book and one wonders what indeed is going to happen.

Then, somewhat out of the blue, one of the characters ends up dead; is it an accident or is there some ill intent involved? The local constabulary, DCI Cotton and colleagues, are called in and, with the help of Max Tudor, who uses his skills as a former MI5 agent to good effect, begin investigating.

The tension mounts and the cause of death is most unusual, which leads to suspected foul play. No obvious suspect comes to the fore but then a chance encounter with one of the villagers at one of his services leads Max to re-consider the circumstances. And, of course, after much more detective work, his theories eventually prove to be correct and those involved in the crime are identified and arrested.

The book keeps the mystery and tension going all through and is a thoroughly enjoyable read. It most certainly leads the reader to want some more of the quirky Nether Monkslip crowd.
Profile Image for Hallie.
Author 24 books536 followers
January 7, 2012
For readers who relish a traditional mystery with a satiric edge, perfect for a cozy fireside read, try G.M. Malliet’s “Wicked Autumn.’’ It’s set a world away from London and a breath away from Agatha Christie’s St. Mary Meade in Nether Monkslip, a quaint, isolated village with copious bucolic charm but not a smidge of ethnic diversity. Where once there were blacksmiths and wheelwrights, now shopkeepers peddle New Age crystals and organic jellies and jams.

The story opens with the formidable Wanda Baton-Smythe organizing the village’s annual Harvest Fayre as if she were staging Sherman’s March. With her “face framed by a starchy collar over a dark summer wool dress that Cotton Mather would have approved,’’ her hair “a testament to the efficacy of Final Net," she alternately bullies, belittles, and flatters her minions into giving their all “for charity."

Wanda is so colorful that readers will be disappointed but not surprised when she meets an untimely end. It falls to the vicar, the Rev. Max Tudor, to help the local constabulary find her killer. Max is a former MI5 agent with enough mayhem in his past to make his current post feel like Nirvana. His biggest challenge in his three years serving as the village priest has been evading relentless speculation regarding his professional celibacy.

The characters here would be very much at home in a delicious comedy of manners by Barbara Pym or even Jane Austen, and there’s plenty of wit to cut the treacle.

(Review published in the Boston Globe, 12/25/11
762 reviews7 followers
October 14, 2012
An interesting take on the 'English village murder' genre, but set in the present. Good plotting and characterisation.

But, oh dear! Again another, I assume, American author, as we are told she lives in Virginia (although studied at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities). Again, this means the book is full of 'howlers' that display a lack of knowledge of the country. Fist of all she has an English character refer to an 'eggplant'. No, dear, we never call them that, they are 'aubergines' here. 'Neighbor' is forgiveable, but not having an English character, thinking to himself, refer to 'catsup' - it is invariably 'ketchup' here.

Then we have a small, West Country,village which supports a wide range of shops, a doctor and a solicitor (lawyer, all more likely to be found in a country town. Villages in the UK are lucky if they have one general store/cum sub post office. There is a greengrocers as well - nowadays you are lucky to find on in a large town, let alone a village. And the village has a 'train' (ugh) station. Extremely unlikely since. at least, the early 1960s. I do wish American authors would take much more care when writing about the UK. Their apparent ignorance can spoil what, in this case, is quite a good, easy read.
Profile Image for Anna Catharina.
531 reviews49 followers
May 18, 2018
Vielleicht hatte ich einfach nur zu hohe Erwartungen, aber das Buch war in meinen Augen einfach nur langweilig. Die Charaktere waren künstlich auf skuril getrimmt und der Kriminalfall sehr träge und nicht nachvollziehbar. Ich mag Krimis nicht, in denen der Leser nicht mit ermitteln kann, sondern von der Auflösung überrascht wird und dann in 20 Seiten (!!) nachträglich die Motive und den Tathergang erklärt bekommt.
Profile Image for Tina.
1,762 reviews281 followers
October 4, 2020
Thin mystery but enjoyable enough. The strength was in all the colorful personalities.

The audiobook narrator trilled his 'r's a little too much for my taste. But I got used to him and the story flowed.
Profile Image for Jane.
2,681 reviews52 followers
June 21, 2020
OK if you're a die-hard fan of British-Village-Cosy, but for my money, the Reverend Sydney Chambers Grantchester series is a lot better.
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