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by G.M. Malliet
Midnight Ink, April 2009
307 pages
ISBN: 0738712477

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Malliet specializes in the classic English mystery in the vein of Christie and Babson: a murderous comedy of manners centered on a specific event. In the first St Just novel, the eponymous detective had been called in on a manor house murder, not appearing until halfway through the plot. In his second outing, he is one of the panelists at the Dead on Arrival mystery writer's convention. (A stolid man expecting to give a speech on police procedure, he's appalled to discover that his panel has been titled "Bad Boys.")

The convention is misnamed in one way Kimberlee Kalder is alive and causing as much trouble as possible from the moment of her arrival. The overnight sensation author of "Dying for a Latte" never skips an opportunity to make her fellow writers look bad or attempt to socially climb to a better publisher and agent.

With the rest of the cast assembled a spy novelist, his downtrodden wife, assorted midlisters with fading sales, Kimberlee' s current agent, the celebrity agent she wants to have, and even a wannabe author, it's time for Kimberlee to be found at the bottom of the bottle dungeon with a broken neck.

DEATH AND THE LIT CHICK shows why classics never go out of style. The characters have just enough development to be interesting, but they're not allowed to stand in the way of solving the mystery. (This is a slight drawback in St Just's sudden and not very well defined case of love at first sight.) That mystery is as tight and intricate as clockwork. Malliet plays fair with the readers all of the clues are given, but that doesn't make solving the puzzle easy.

If you've grown tired of mysteries that put emphasis on the quirks and love lives of their characters at the expense of the actual plot and mystery, this is the perfect antidote. If you're a fan of the classic English manor house-style mystery, Malliet belongs on your bookshelf.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, May 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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