Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Who Killed Margot Browne?
DEVIL'S BREATH (Max Tudor #6)
St. Martin's Minotaur
April 11, 2017
After the shattering events of The Haunted Season, Anglican Priest and ex-MI5 star agent Max Tudor has come to the conclusion that one can never really leave FIVE and has agreed to step in on investigations on an "as needed" basis. When aging movie star Margot Browne is found floating in the bay near Monkslip-super-Mare on the coast of England, they ask Max to aid his friend and colleague DCI Cotton. Margot Browne was sailing on a yacht owned by a famous director of Hollywood action films. If the tides had cooperated with the murderer, the body might never have been found. It was found, however, and her death was clearly murder and no accident. But who among the yacht's passengers; the famous director, his self-involved girlfriend, an aging but still well-respected stylist, a screenwriter, Margot's young male companion, the hanger-on Baron and Baroness? Or could it be the chef or yoga instructor on the crew? Also on the ship is a female MI5 female agent with whom Max has a history. She has an entirely different investigation ongoing.
The characters are introduced to us in the beginning extensively, as is usual in Malliet's books. It's a helpful device when there are so many characters to consider and as the various connections to Margot are revealed, absolutely necessary in keeping them sorted. I really admire Malliet's deft parody of the Agatha Christie novels and others published during the "Golden Age'. The Max Tudor novels require a definite "suspension of disbelief" however. The notion that Max's bishop would approve of his marriage to a well-known Pagan and that MI5 could call on him at will is a bit hard to swallow. But if you can do that, the Max Tudor novels are a treat to read with great characterization and plotting. Malliet has a witty and engaging style; one that has brought her many awards and legions of fans. I did miss Max's village of Nether Monkslip and the presence of his wife, Awena, and hope he will return there in the next book. An added plus for Devil's Breath is more background on the dashing DCI Cotton and the revelation of his first name!
I highly recommend the Max Tudor series and Devil's Breath. Thanks to St. Martin's Minotaur and NetGalley for an advance digital copy. The opinions above are my own.