Oct 8 2013 11:00am

Fresh Meat: Pagan Spring by G. M. Malliet

Pagan Spring by G. M. MallietPagan Spring by G. M. Malliet is the third book in the Max Tudor traditional mystery series (available October 8, 2013).

In the third installment of the Max Tudor series, our namesake hero is starting to get a little weary of bringing murderers to justice. After all, he retired from MI5 and entered the church because he was looking to solve problems of a much less deadly nature, even if those problems are often just as serious to the people involved. Now that he’s solved two murders since his arrival at Nether Monkslip, he’s quite content to focus on tending to his flock, expanding his priestly influence and being in (discreet, or so he believes,) love with Awena Owen, the unconventional owner of the local New Age shop. Nether Monkslip isn’t the kind of town to find joy in violent deaths either, much preferring to focus on occurrences as benignly exciting as the achievements of the local writer’s group, the opening of a trendy new restaurant and the return of a native son who made good on the London stage.

But then, of course, another murderer strikes. The local police inspector, DCI Cotton, trusts Max’s instincts, having worked with him on the previous murders. Others aren’t as enthused by Max’s involvement, or so he fears. When Max is summoned to meet the local bishop soon after news of the latest murder breaks, he braces himself for a dressing down, on either this subject or his relationship with the decidedly un-Anglican Awena. Fortunately for him, the interview goes much better than expected, at least on the murder front:

With the exquisite timing for which the man was famous, the bishop turned, just as Max was beginning to relax, and said, “We can’t have any more of this, Max. Whatever is going on, you have to get to the bottom of it. Root it out, as it were. With your special skills, you should be of invaluable assistance to the police. I wonder,” he added softly, after an appraising glance at Max. “I wonder… Has it ever occured to you God may have brought you to Nether Monkslip for a purpose? For this purpose?”

Max could think of no reply. It seemed to him a highly doubtful hypothesis. On later reflection, he would find he didn’t much care for the idea, for didn’t it mean more people might be murdered in Nether Monkslip?

Given the go-ahead, Max races to solve the crime before the perpetrator can strike again. Along the way, he uncovers more secrets than he ever suspected might be hidden by the inhabitants of such a quiet village, including one that dates back decades to the horrors of World War II.

While I greatly enjoy how the gentle humor of the Max Tudor series serves as deft counterpoint to the murders each book revolves around, a large part of the appeal, to me, lies in the more serious contemplation of religion, mortality and, most of all, love. Max’s remarkable background allows for diverse episodes to be contrasted to excellent effect, such as when he considers the power of his feelings for Awena:

In his undercover days, Max had on several occasions pretended to be married. The pretense had helped him avoid tricky situations where he was being invited to party with the bad guys. He’d often been tested but had found that establishing the rules early on made his later refusals believable. The worst criminals had instantly understood when he said he loved his wife, a fact that had astonished Max every time it happened. They would not have believed him if he’s claimed ethical scruples, of course, but love was the great universal, even for men who dealt in piping the sewage of terrorism into the country.

Of course, the path of true love never did run smooth, but I finished the book confident in Max and Awena’s integrity and mutual devotion. I suppose that really means that I’m confident in G. M. Malliet’s ability to tell a thoughtful, nuanced story, though I am hoping that the next book in the series has more from Suzanna Winship and DCI Cotton (I am not above saying I ship this pair.) It’s almost a shame that murder pretty much has to be a part of the equation, though Ms Malliet handles these cozy mysteries with intelligence and a keen sensitivity to what would drive a soul to such extreme lengths. It’s always nice to read a mystery novel that makes you care as much for the supporting cast as it does for those directly involved.


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This Sweepstakes has ended.

To enter for a chance to win a hardcover copy of  Pagan Spring by G. M. Malliet, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

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!

Pagan Spring Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry  at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2013/10/fresh-meat-pagan-spring-by-g-m-malliet-doreen-sheridan-traditional-max-tudor-mystery beginning at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) October 8, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 a.m. ET October 15, 2013. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law.  Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Jeffrey Tretin
1. jtretin
My kind of book. Thanks for the giveaway.
Suzanne Gonneville
5. Thumbs
"...highly doubtful hypothesis...?" I know we'll find out differently.
7. janedoe
haven't read this series yet but glad to start!
Anne Muller
8. anne38
This is a new to me series too. Sounds good though.
Barbara Bibel
9. bbibel
Sounds like an interesting series. I'd love to read it.
vickie dailey
10. kidcurry
this sounds pretty good - If I win I will have to pick up the first two in this series - interesting that a MI5 member would become a cleric
12. Monicalibrarian
I have to confess I haven't read this series, but my Mom is a huge fan, so I am entering for her.
14. Airieanne
Big crush on Max! Love this series. I'd love to have my own copy for keeps. Thanks.
Arun Kumar
16. arnk13
Enjoyed reading the first one in the series. Yet to catch up with the second one.
17. Pat D
I have really enjoyed Max Tudor's previous two mysteries. I'm sure Pagan Spring will be as satisfying. He is an interesting character with his two disparate careers.
patricia lambert
18. motelboss
would love to read this my kind of book thanks for the chance
Monica Williams
20. Monicalibrarian
I have to confess I haven't read this series, but my Mom is a huge fan, so I am entering for her.
Erin Hartshorn
22. ErinMH
I haven't run across this series before, but it sounds delightful.
Vernon Luckert
23. vl4095
Looks like it will be a good read. Would love to win!
Jessica Jones
24. nolaboard
I've enjoyed this series so far very much!
Pat Dupuy
25. Pat D
Okay, I think I'm signed in now. Still the same; Max Tudor's mysteries are very fun to read and he is an interesting character, having gone from being a spy to being an Anglican priest.
MARY Mclain
Sounds interesting and I would like to read it.
27. Jane K
Love a good mystery and this one sounds like fun.
Karl Stenger
29. Stenger
I love the series and would love to read the new installment
Richard Derus
31. expendablemudge
Who could possibly resist a title like PAGAN SPRING?! I can't.
Marlyn Beebe
34. Marlyn
I think Max Tudor is great, and I'd love to read his latest adventure. Plus, the title is grand!
susan beamon
35. susanbeamon
Another new to me series. Hope this is as good as others i've found here.
Shawn Simmons
37. ShawnRSimmons
I've been looking forward to this book! thanks for the giveaway.
40. Mainer207
I'm currently reading A FATAL WINTER so I'm really looking forward to PAGAN SPRING! I love Max!
Marianne Stevens
41. mainer207
I'm currently reading A FATAL WINTER so I'm really looking forward to PAGAN SPRING! I love Max!
laura mccaffery
42. lmccaffery
Max Tudor books are always a great read. The clerical theme makes them interesting in a different way.
45. angel
this sounds good!
48. Shannon Baas
I would love to read this.
Mary L Allen
49. celtpriest
As an Episcopal Cleric (the American branch 0f the Chruch) I have a particular love for mysteries with clergy! I would love to continue reading this fine series.
Rebecca Brothers
50. RileyC
I've been wanting to check out this series!
Sonia Grgas
52. sg911911
I like this series, would love to win the book.
Maryann Cook
53. Mir
I've read every book by this author and have been looking forward to this one. Good series.
Patricia Nicklas
54. pmernick
I'm looking forward to the third in this series. Thanks for the giveaway!
Irene Menge
56. Goldenmane
Sounds like a marvelous read! How have I missed these?
James Devlin
57. devlinjp
I have read her earlier series (which I liked a lot), but none of these yet.
Janice Santillo
59. themommazie
Sounds like a good book. I love mysteries. Would love to win. (fingers crossed)
61. Marni G
This will be the next winner in this intriguing series, one I always review favorably on Auntie M Writes. Would love to be able to add a review of the newest~
susan Morrison
62. susanm123
I loved the first 2 books in the series, can not wait to read this one.
Laurence Coven
63. Holmes
This would be a great one to win for my first win ever.
Andrew Kuligowski
64. KuligowskiAndrew
I am just finishing "Blasphemy" on Audio CD - Douglas Preston's 2nd book featuring ex-CIA agent turned monk turned detective Wyman Ford (after Tyrannosaur Canyon and before Impact). I wonder how (if) these two characters are similar, and how pronounced their differences might be.
Sheila Korman
66. skkorman
Sounds like a good read—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!
Deanna Stillings
67. reader123
I really enjoyed the first two books in this series.
Nancy Pate
68. patebooks
I like this series and am totally crushing on Max!
david hartzog
69. dlhartzog
Thanks for offering this chance at this book.
Anita Yancey
70. rosewood780
Sounds like a great mystery. I would love to win a copy. Thanks for this chance.
Julie McDonough
72. onejewel
I can't wait to read this. Thank-you for the great giveaway.
Rosemary Krejsa
73. grandpa5
I have read this series yet but I'm looking forward to trying this author. Thank you for this giveaway.
Marisa Young
74. Risa
I love this author. Can't wait to read her latest.
75. ronframpton
looks good
Anna Mills
76. Anna Mills
Sometimes all it takes is a great cover to get me to pick it up. Just lovely!
80. stems25
I have loved the first two books and look forward to reading this one. Love the cover art!!
Jeanne Agee
82. jta
I haven't read any of the series but sounds like a great one. Thanks for the giveaway.
Marie-Louise Molloy
83. Wezzie
Love the series and want to continue!
Kathryn Baxter
85. KateBaxter
Oh, to wander back to Nether Monkslip for another delightful episode of Max Tudor and his crazy, yet endearing, flock would be my delight. I have enjoyed the series thus far and would welcome the opportunity to read a hard copy version of the next installment in this series. Thanks for offering this opportunity to us.
86. normajean
Have read and enjoyed the first two. So glad to hear the third one is out. Thanks for the chance to win.
Brenda Tucker
90. rango3
Odd career change, but I can't wait to read it.
Sharon Shumway
91. Shellen
Clergy/Crime, I love the combination. It works for me every time. Can't wait to read it.
Sharon Shumway
92. Shellen
Clergy/Crime, I love the combination. It works for me every time. Can't wait to read it.
Jeffrey Malis
93. bravejam
Looking forward to reading book #3... I appreciate the opportunity!
Joyce Mitchell
94. JoyceLm
Thanks for the review & the chance to win.
Judith Barnes
95. judithbarnes@cox.net
Pagans, MI5, and an Anglican priest--my kind of mystery.
Florry M. D.
97. florryalyna
Nice cover, intriguing story! Would love to read it!
Pat Murphy
98. murphyp2011
New series. Just what I need for the fall. Count me in.
103. ronframpton
would love to read this
elizabeth findlay
104. eafindlay
MI5 agent who is now a priest still fighting crime, SWEET!! I have got to check this book out.
Bruce Hamilton
107. deerwalker
Looks like a great twist would love to win
108. peb
Looking forward to reading this!
Kate Lyons
112. KML
I enjoy this series - and would love to win!
113. tony parsons
cool luv 2 read this book
Susan Mahaffey
114. Smbirds
Fascinating! I have not read this series but will have to even if I don't win! However I hope I do!!
116. LS
Ready to win this and be really scared!
117. runner
Groovy Pagan Spring!
Jenne Turner
123. JET16
Thanks for the heads up on this series. It sounds like a great one. I love Elizabeth George and Charles Todd and this author sounds like he would fit right in with my favorites.
Jane Schwarz
125. Janeschwarz
Sounds like a great read. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.
lynette thompson
126. LYNETTE52
I hope I'm signed in, this looks like a wonderful book. Sometimes its so hard to enter your sweepstakes. I love books.
Karen Cherubino
127. kcherubtx
I've seen some really great reviews for this book; it's definitely on my wish list. Thanks for the chance.
randi oaklief
129. randio
I love reading authors I've never read! Like opening a present!
Beth Talmage
137. wordygirl
I'm always glad to discover a new-to-me series.
Jay Chappie
138. Bibliophile
Looks good. I like series that take place in England. Don't know why, just do.
judy oliver
140. jjudyfl
Sounds like a different "hero. " He has my attention.
141. Tony Parsons
luv 2 read any of these books
Katharine Ott
143. KatharineO
It's been awhile since I've gotten involved in a series - this one sounds great!
Roger Simmons
144. truckerofbc
im in like flynn :) Thanks for the chance.
Irene Menge
145. Goldenmane
Sounds like a marvelous read. Would love to win.
Donna Bruno
146. dlbawiles
I'm new to this series but would love to win a copy!
Tawney Mazek
151. tmaze
And so I find another series to be investigated - and it sounds good.
Elizabeth Bevins
152. @BevinsElizabeth
Thanks for then entry. I would love to read this one.
Shauntea Crutcher
153. tiac32
Seems like something I would enjoy reading.
David Kidle
156. airforceguy82
I find this interesting, and would like to read this book.
Johanna Appel
158. Hrhjohanna
I'm a huge fan of G.M. Malliet and would love to win!
159. DebbieC
Sounds like a wonderful book, would love to win :)

kathy pease
160. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
162. Rickie Hinrichs
Agatha winner impressive
Andra Dalton
164. andra77
Thanks for chance to enter contest & good luck to all that enter:0)
Clydia DeFreese
165. clydia
I do not know this author. I'd love to read this book.
Bob Keck
166. ky2here
Sounds good - like a perfect vacation read.
Diane Stedner
167. caseykelp
Would really like the chance to read this book. Have not read the author before but it sounds like an interesting read.
Brenda Elsner
168. brat52101
Sounds like a great read!! Count me in!
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