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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Malliet, G.M. Death of a Cozy Writer

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

G.M. Malliet's Death of a Cozy Writer is a good old-fashioned British drawing room mystery. The ill-fated writer of the book's title is Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk, whose best-selling series of Miss Rampling mysteries has left him rolling in pounds. Sir Adrian's favorite sport is altering his will, disinheriting one or another of his four children in response to real or perceived slights, or for exhibiting questionable taste, among innumerable other possible offenses--torturing them by playing a sort of Russian roulette with their inheritances. Eager to see them all squirm simultaneously and in close quarters, he invites his brood to Waverly Court, Adrian's 18th-century estate in Cambridgeshire, to celebrate his impending nuptials to a woman all four assume will be a British version of Anna Nicole Smith. The invitations prompt the expected amount of shock and complaint. The get-together itself proves to be murderous.

Death of a Cozy Writer is the first in a new series featuring Detective Chief Inspector St. Just of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Sergeant Fear. The crime-fighting pair are not introduced, however, until we are some one hundred pages into the book, after a crime has been committed. And when St. Just and Fear do appear we are not told that much about them. Some details emerge: Fear has a daughter; St. Just has a cat aptly named Deerstalker. But while the other characters in the book are described in great detail--the malevolent Sir Adrian and his scheming brood, the help at Waverly Court--the detectives themselves are not fleshed out. This seems odd, as it is St. Just and his right-hand man who will have to anchor the series as its recurring characters, long after the Beauclerk-Fisks have been left on their own to run through their inheritances. It is interesting that the author has elected to breathe life into characters who will (presumably) be replaced in subsequent outings rather than beefing up her portrayal of St. Just.

Malliet's writing is lovely:

"Natasha admired the woman's self-possession. It was an excellent impersonation of aristocracy putting the revolting masses back in their place. Natasha, who had done her own research, found the act nearly pitch-perfect--for an act it was, she was certain. She wouldn't have put it past Lillian to have arrived at breakfast dressed in jodhpurs, cracking a whip against her highly polished boots, despite the absence of a stables for forty miles or more. Instead, Lillian had opted for the simple wool sheath bedecked with a king's ransom in pearls at neck and wrist: the uniform of the bored society matron. But not, Natasha recognized, quite the done thing for breakfast in a country manor house."

And the mystery certainly kept me guessing until all was revealed in the requisite drawing room scene at the book's end. (I am left confused about one issue I should have liked tied up, though, having to do with the identity of Sir Adrian's secretary.) All in all a delightful read. I look forward to more in the St. Just series.

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