Sunday, November 9, 2008

Book Report/Mrs. Malory Investigates

Mrs. Malory Investigates (British title - Gone Away)
by Hazel Holt
mystery, 1989
finished, 11/8/08

When I finished my first Mrs. Malory book, I couldn't wait to read the first in the series. As soon as it came in the mail, I put aside all the other books and began reading. What a nice, nice woman Mrs. M is. She is fifty-four years old. Her husband died two years before, and her son is at college. She lives alone with a cat and dog, and does "good works" in Taviscombe, the community where she has lived her whole life. An old acquaintance who moved away and is quite wealthy, comes back to town and introduces his future wife. No one likes her. And surprise! she ends up dead. Because Mrs. Malory is so well-known and liked in town, people talk to her and tell her things they won't tell the police. She tries to piece together the information and figure out what really happened. It was a good little story; what some call a coz(s)y and others might call a traditional mystery. I did figure out whodunit but not until the end. I enjoyed meeting the villagers, and of course the cast of characters was much clearer to me than in No Cure For Death because the reader is just being introduced to them. This is one of those series I want to read right through, and already I'm looking forward to book two, The Cruelest Month. I have a tiny gripe with the cover art; it is possible to figure out the murderer from the picture. Why do publishers do this, and particularly in mysteries??

There are a couple passages I'd like to share:

We embarked upon one of those eager conversations that enthusiasts for a comparatively unknown author [in this case, Charlotte M. Yonge] find so absorbing, interrupting each other to praise our own favorite characters and incidents.

and

I sat at the table for some time, not really thinking of anything but just having what my mother used to call "a good wallow." A ray of winter sun, shining on to the sideboard, made me get up and fetch a duster and that broke the mood, and I pulled myself together and did the washing up, thinking how lucky women were to have so many little tasks that simply had to be done, so that, in the end, cheerfulness did keep breaking in.

One of the treats of buying a used book is that sometimes there is writing from a previous reader. This book had two such notes, both from 1994. One said: "Interesting read for 1st book. Made hospital time go faster - hope she writes more" and the second wrote: "Not bad. good plot." I concur completely.

9 comments:

  1. I am adding this to my TBR list!!! Looks good! I don't usually read mysteries; but this looks line one that is similar to Alexander McCall Smith's Mme. Ramotswe.

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  2. Hey Laura! It is more of mystery than the Smith book yet it is a story of village life with her coffee mornings and the villagers and her animals. It isn't too gory. The murder takes place off-screen, as they say. Good characterizations. Thanks for writing.

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  3. I do love mysteries. This sounds sort of like Miss Marple.

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  4. I'm so glad you like Hazel Holt and live in hope that you might fall in love with Charlotte Yonge, Nan! I love cozy crime novels and tha's what I always wanted to write. My first novel was a romantic comedy but I think that was an aberration as cozies are my 'thing' - one published, one with my agent and one nearly finished. I've read all the Sheila Malory books and look forward to more. (I believe that Taviscombe is based on the seaside town of Minehead in Somerset in the south west of England).

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  5. I'll try this one out soon. It sounds like my cup of tea!

    You mentioned this author recently to me didn't you?

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  6. I love finding a new cozy mystery author. I'll add this one to my Amazon list.

    It sounds just like the kind of mystery I like.

    I just finished Laura Childs' latest Tea Shop Mystery. Although each of them is similar in plot, they are all very good. :)

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  7. I haven't read this one yet, but I certainly plan to. I thought maybe you and your readers would be interested in this picture of Minehead, or Taviscombe as it is in the books: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/36873
    The site offers links to further pictures but I liked this one because it's a general view )and I guess the War Memorial in the foreground is appropriate today, too).

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  8. To both Kays, I think you'll love this series. She is such a real person.
    Nicola, I fully intend to look into C. Yonge. How can I resist with both you and Mrs. Malory (Hazel Holt, I'm sure) coaxing me on?!
    Brenda, I read the first in the tea shop mysteries, and then one in the scrapbooking but haven't continued. I should.
    Geranium Cat, thank you so much for the picture. I'm saving the address so I can post it with the book report I do on the next Mrs. M book! It is just a beautiful spot!

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  9. I'm in the mood for a cozy mystery. This one is checked out of the library at the moment, but I put a hold on it. I've always been compulsive about starting a series at the beginning - lol!

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