I've read quite a few of G.M.Malliet's books and always appreciated her ability to use humor to such good effect and her deft plotting. Most of her whodunnits are set in the UK, and she created the perfect English village in her Max Tudor mysteries. I've read quite a few of G.M.Malliet's books and always appreciated her ability to use humor to such good effect and her deft plotting. Most of her whodunnits are set in the UK, and she created the perfect English village in her Max Tudor mysteries. Augusta Hawke, however, is set in the Washington DC area in Georgetown. Augusta is a successful mystery writer, with 18 novels to her credit. She is widowed, living in an upscale townhouse community. She is intensely private and organized, knowing little about her neighbors. Like many such developments in America, people come and go, keeping themselves to themselves. She does take some interest in the young couple living directly across from her. Zora and Niko Norman are a handsome pair with an almost-year-old baby. It's not that she watches them purposely, but they have no curtains, and she is home almost all the time. Plus, she is stalled on novel #19.
When the perfect couple goes missing, the dishy Detective Narducci asks what Augusta knows about them. She realizes that she is probably the only one who knows there is trouble in the Norman marriage. Augusta saw a heated argument through the window and heard a shriek from who she thought must be Zora. Augusta doesn't want to be stereotyped as nosy, so she doesn't tell Narducci at that time. Instead, she contacts Zora's mother at the downtown DC gallery she owns. The baby is safe, and Zora's parents never liked or trusted Niko. Augusta enlists Misaki Nelson, a retired lawyer, in her search for the Normans. The two are off to the races. A sleazy PI (and true crime writer) involves himself in their investigation as well. Detective Narducci is decidedly not happy. There are moments of wry humor, hilarity, and great danger before they find the missing Normans. The only negative is an overly quick wrap-up.
Some people don't enjoy the first-person narrative, but I enjoyed being in Augusta's head. She is unique and fearless. I hope there are more novels to come. I like Augusta, and new opportunities open up in her life, which has been stagnant. Thanks to NetGalley and Severn Books for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.