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.
I found it a bit of a slog to read, what with the repetitive on the MI5 background, and it seemed for me to bog down the story. Slow going and not what I would class as a page turner.
Will try the next book in the series, to see if it gets any better!