Oct 16 2012 9:30am

Fresh Meat: A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet

A Fatal Winter by GM MallietA Fatal Winter is the second in G.M. Malliet’s traditional mystery series about MI5 agent-turned-vicar Max Tudor (available October 16, 2012).

Oscar, Lord Footrustle, a wealthy old aristocrat living alone (the servants don’t count) invites his extended family to spend Christmas with him at Chedrow Castle, their crumbling ancestral home situated in the quaint English village of Nether Monkslip.

Among the relatives gathered are his fading actress daughter, her much-younger half-siblings (“the Twyns”), a resentful poor relation, and assorted cousins who can’t wait to get their hands on the castle’s furnishings and fittings and paintings, which include a suspected Reynolds and a minor Rembrandt.

What could possibly go wrong?

A Fatal Winter is a traditional mystery that takes on the tropes of the genre and gives them a modern edge while still retaining that cozy, Christie feel. The characters who are gathered at the castle are types, but G.M. Malliet has invested them with such vivid life that they reshape their roles. We wonder who will die first and that curiosity turns to gleeful anticipation as we get to know the family.

Oscar’s sister, Letitia (she prefers to be addressed as “Lady Baynard”), disapproves of everyone, including her twin brother. As the relatives gather for drinks and a discussion of what they might buy their host as a Christmas present, she surveys the motley crew with a jaundiced eye.

The togetherness was giving her heartburn. She looked about her with a barely concealed contempt, like the Queen watching a performance by the Duchess of York as captured by hidden video camera and wondering where, oh, where in her long reign things had begun to go so dreadfully wrong.

The person who might have drawn our sympathy, Lady Baynard’s companion, her adoptive granddaughter Lamorna, is a sly and bitter woman who listens at doors and stores up grievances. She has a right to feel aggrieved—Lady Baynard never lets her forget that she’s not related by blood and that “blood tells,” but she is an irritating person. We find ourselves appraising her closely, wondering if the huge wooden cross she wears around her neck to ostentatiously declare her faith is just the camouflage of a murderer.

And of course there’s going to be a murder. We know, as well as Lady Baynard, that there’s trouble brewing in Nether Monkslip.

Readers will recognize the literary landscape of G.M. Malliet’s Nether Monkslip immediately with its eclectic collection of inhabitants that includes a gorgeous pagan named Awena, a gossipy post mistress, assorted shopkeepers, and the odd neurotic cat.

The village is a refuge from the madhouse of London with its constantly rising threat levels; a retreat where protagonist Max Tudor’s major concerns are the “little frictions” of life and coming up with a Christmas sermon that isn’t a cliche.

Max is pulled into the investigation reluctantly, but once he’s involved, he brings to bear his former skills as an MI5 agent. Max is a man who views the world in a special way and his experiences did not erase his sense of humor.

At least, he reflected, the hotel had a plain, old-fashioned lift with deeply padded sides—none of these modern horrors made of glass, apparently conceived as a trial for people who are afraid of heights. The last time he’d had reason to stay in London, the hotel lift had been made of stainless steel with water cascading artistically down the sides—it was like being hoisted aloft in a high-tech colander.

When Max solves the murder—in the grand tradition of meddling ministers in cozy mysteries everywhere—he lays out his logic before a drawing room of suspects in a nice homage to the classics of the genre.

It’s all great fun, and readers will find themselves looking forward to whatever Malliet has in mind for spring in Nether Monkslip.

This sweepstakes has ended.

Looking for a new traditional mystery to read? Comment for a chance to win one of ten hardcover copies of A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet!

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2012/10/fresh-meat-a-fatal-winter-by-gm-malliet-cozy-traditional-max-tudor-mystery-katherine-tomlinson beginning at 09:30 am. Eastern Time (ET) October 16, 2012. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 a.m. ET on October 23, 2012 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at https://www.criminalelement.com/page/official-rules-the-fatal-winter-comments-contest. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010

See more coverage of new releases in our Fresh Meat series.

Katherine Tomlinson lives in Los Angeles in an apartment where her TBR pile has its own bookcase. She writes dark fiction but has a soft spot for cozy mysteries, heroic fantasy, and horror novels where only bad people get killed. She is the editor of the upcoming anthology Nightfalls.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Michael Kelberer
1. mkelberer
Sounds intriguing - I cut my mystery teeth on Christie.
Alexander Douglas
2. alxndrdouglas
With such an excellent review, what's not to like?
3. Anne Slater
Malliet's first Max Tudor mystery was so engaging that I couldn't possibly miss this one!
Jeffrey Tretin
4. jtretin
Thank you for the excellent review and the giveaway. MI5 to Vicar alone make it interesting.
Anne Muller
6. anne38
This is a new to me author and series. It sounds like a good read.
Karl Stenger
7. Stenger
Loved the first book of the series. Can't wait to read this one
Robin Weatherington
9. rawfish
Looking forward to reading the whole book.
Dana Meeks
10. Turtle
I haven't read this author is I will be adding the books to my list.
11. Bernadette
I love everything G.M. Malliet writes. So glad a new book is out!
James Devlin
12. devlinjp
I have not read this series yet, though I enjoyed the three books in the previous one--looking forward to this!
kathleen eddy
13. reddox
I haven't read this author yet--it sounds like I am missing something really good.
Erin Hartshorn
15. ErinMH
An English country manor murder! How wonderful!
16. Iluvtrail
I am looking forward to reading this book!
Kathy Chiocca
17. njgrl4ever
Have not read this author yet but would love the chance to...
Jo Ann Hakola
18. bkfaerie
I love cozy mysteries and a spy turned into vicar immediately caught my attention. Sounds like a good read!
Beth Mills
21. bethmills
Really enjoyed Wicked Autumn--Max Tudor makes a very engaging sleuth and the novel had the flavor of Golden Age mysteries without feeling at all dusty or out-of-date. Definitely looking forward to A Fatal Winter.
Joyce Delaney
24. joycedelaney
I loved Wicked Autumn and put this book on my TBR list as soon as I
heard about it.
Marlyn Beebe
26. Marlyn
I'd love to win this book! (BTW, if there was a contest for largest TBR piles, mine would beat Katherine's; it's taking over the house!)
27. Carolee888
This book sounds like a wonderful cozy mystery book. I have read all of Agatha Christie's writing, think that started me off in that passion. The cover is wonderful. I have never read anything by this author. Fingers are crossed.
Carol Wong
29. Carolee888
This book sounds like a wonderful cozy mystery book. I have read all of Agatha Christie's writing, think that started me off in that passion. The cover is wonderful. I have never read anything by this author. Fingers are crossed.
Just my kind of book for a winter's night!
32. stems25
I really enjoyed the first "Max Tudor" and I looking forward to discovering more of his background.
33. JTNaper
The setup sounds eerily familiar--I think I read a book with a similar setup by M.C. Beaton.
Lori Myers
34. trixie42
I love holiday and winter cozy mysteries! Makes me wish it would snow so I could stay inside and read all day!
Bob Alexander
35. rx_alex
I have read the DCI St. Just mysteries and loved them. Now, having read the first Max Tudor mystery, I want this one too. If I don't win it I'll buy it.
37. lpaziak
I so enjoyed the first Max Tudor book, I couldn't wait for the next in the series. My advice to the author -- WRITE FASTER!!
39. fay234
love books about MI5
Nancy Pate
41. patebooks
The first Max Tudor was superb. Love the names in the new one. Just bought the e-book because I can't wait to read it!
42. joantu
Oh, hoarding, definetely!!! Love her writing.
Cam Grizmala
43. Fala
This book sounds interesting...I'm looking forward to reading it.
46. Doreen Weaton
Sounds like another "have to read."
Jackie Wisherd
47. JackieW
Would love to read this book...thanks for the info on it. Love gingerbread and this story would go hand in hand with it.
Cecile Kohrs
48. cecilekohrs
Love GM Maillet. Have read her earlier books, and find them all fun, and smart. I should win, because even if I get a free copy, I will have to buy one for my mother-in-law, who is also a fan. :)
Darlene Slocum
49. darandsam
I would love to curl up on a long winter night with this book and my cats close beside me.
Heather Martin
52. CrystalMirror
I've not read anything about MI-5. It would be something new for me to learn about.
54. AmyR
Sounds awesome! Great review!
55. Dianne
Another great winter read.
56. maryc
A Fatal Winter sounds wonderful - thanks for the giveaway!
Andrew Kuligowski
57. KuligowskiAndrew
I appreciate the giveaways, but I appreciate the suggestions just as much!! (OK, ok - ALMOST as much ...)
Larisa LaBrant
59. MsGodiva1
British intrigue for the holidays! Looking forward to this read, either from the library or by a lucky chance.
vicki wurgler
60. bison61
interesting relatives! sounds like a great murder mystery
Patricia Nicklas
61. pmernick
Good review and sounds like a good mystery for the winter time
Karen Cherubino
62. kcherubtx
I think this sounds like a great read for a cold winter night! Enjoyed the review.
Jeane Howell
64. jeaneintexas
An MI5 agent who is now a vicor? What a good character that must be.
The review surely makes me want to read this book.

Thank you for having the drawing.
Beth Talmage
65. wordygirl
An agent turned vicar? This is exactly my type of book. Thanks for the introduction to a series I believe I'll love.
Dee Phelps
68. dlphelps
Ms. Malliet does a great job with A Fatal Winter. An interesting concept; an agent turned vicar. The setting is is well described and the cover art is gorgeous.
Rex Bull
69. wbull1
I would love to see how the author uses this very traditional setting.
Michelle Fidler
70. Micky
Sounds like a good book. I know she has another series, too.
73. bobaloo
Can't wait to read!
Melissa Keith
74. melly801
I like Christmas theme books and this one sounds brill! I always look at books with snow on the cover because I'm in Texas where it's too damn hot and I want to be transported to colder climes. Gingerbread. YUM! I'll provide that if you'll provide this delicious mystery! Thanks. :-)
Kimbrell Scheunert
75. kscheunert
Oh, I loved Wicked Autumn! I can't wait to read this one.
Cindi Hoppes
77. CindiHoppes
I enjoyed the first Max Tudor book and would love to win this
second one...
Thanks for the opportunity~
78. Georgiann Hennelly
sounds like a fantastic read.
Marilyn Wons
79. berwyn
A Fatal Winter sounds very good - I would love to read this
Karen Gonyea
81. ktgonyea
Sounds like a great read :)

ktgonyea at gmail.com
82. Shannon Baas
I'd like this.
83. edwina lango
sounds interesting
barbara studer
85. 56babs
sounds like a very good read!! thanks for the draw:)
Edward Vandenberg
86. Crunch57
This looks like a good well written book.
87. Donna L
Sounds like a good read.
90. Daisy1951
I've been waiting patiently for the sequal - absolutely loved Wicked Autumn!!
Sheila Korman
92. skkorman
Sounds like a great read—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!
97. edq143
sounds interesting
Melissa Darwin
98. turboterp
Thanks for introducing me to a great new (for me) author~!
kathy pease
101. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
105. Mary G
I love mysteries and would love to read this one!
Vernon Luckert
106. vl4095
Mysteries are my favorite reads, and this sounds like a good one!
Michael Gonzales
107. mchlmlgnz
I've been meaning to read this author, but just have not gotten around to it. Hopefully I'll win so I can.
Heather Cowley
110. choochoo
Excellent review. Hope I get to read this soon!
Buddy Garrett
It sounds like a great mystery. Thanks for the giveaway.
115. Hope Rabi
Would love to read it!
Susan Smoaks
119. susansmoaks
i am looking for a traditional read, thanks!
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