Thursday, October 27, 2011

Death of a Cozy Writer, by G.M. Malliet

Death of a Cozy Writer
by G.M. Malliet

From what he had seen of Mrs. Ketchen, he thought it unlikely she had any idea whether on any given day her employer was at home, pinned under a lorry, or planting gunpowder in the basement of Westminster.

The term "cozy" kind of rubs me the wrong way. I can't quite put my finger on why - there's just something about it. The fact that Malliet's Death of a Cozy Writer uses this particular term in its title is really my only quibble with the book, for which the author scored the 2008 Agatha Award for Best First Novel.

The cozy writer in question, the wildly successful Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk, has summoned his four children to his manor house, presumably to tell them of his impending marriage. It should probably go without saying that they're a pretty dysfunctional bunch all around and Sir Adrian's new wife was accused and acquitted of killing her former husband, to boot.

Of course, there are a few murders, including the one that's pretty much telegraphed by the title, and Detective Chief Inspector St. Just and Sergeant Fear are brought in to make sense of it all. While there's probably nothing here that you haven't seen half a hundred times before in this sort of book, Malliet handles it all with such skill that I wouldn't begrudge her that Agatha Award.

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