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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.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
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READING HERODOTUS:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Malliet, G.M.: Death and the Lit Chick

  Amazon  

3.5 stars

In G.M. Malliet's second lit-themed mystery (see my review of Death of a Cozy Writer), DCI Arthur St. Just of the Cambridgeshire Constabulary is holed up in Dalmorton Castle, a fifteenth-century Scottish castle turned luxury hotel. The Castle is crawling with literary types, publicists and agents and mystery writers, all gathered to attend a nearby conference where St. Just is scheduled to speak on the subject of real-world criminal investigations. Unfortunately for the attendees, a real-world crime interrupts the proceedings. One of the conference-goers, the widely-detested lit chick of Malliet's title, turns up dead in the dungeon.

St. Just's lists of suspects is limited since the moat-encircled Castle's drawbridge was up for the night at the time of the murder. That should make the job of identifying the killer easier, but most of the cast have something to hide, if not murder, and the Castle itself is harboring secrets. The dead woman, darling of the lit world, is not even what she seems.

In this second outing St. Just is fleshed out a bit more than he was in Death of a Cozy Writer. He's a widower, still mourning the loss of his wife after several years, but for the first time since her death he finds himself interested in another woman, one of his suspects. I like St. Just and want to see more of him in subsequent books. Malliet's cast of supporting characters is large--rather confusingly so, but a helpful list is provided at the beginning of the book. Unfortunately, none of these secondary characters springs off the page. Much of the book is taken up with interviews of the suspects, so it doesn't feel like there's much of a plot. I'm sure it's possible to keep the suspects' various alibis straight and have a stab at ferreting out the killer oneself, but I would have needed to keep notes in order to do so. In the end, Death of a Lit Chick is an okay read, but it lacks the charm of Malliet's first book.

Comments

1.

Not knowing much about the publishing world, I sometimes wonder if the amount of editing decreases with each subsequent book. Even though you can sometime see that an author isn't as skilled at the beginning of his/her career, it also seems that someone else is paying attention to the details.

And this isn't even considering the bloat that sometimes happens later in an author's career, as they don't seem to think it is necessary to trim anything.

Sorry, today's digression. I'm sorry to hear this book wasn't up the the standard of the first.

2.

Hi, Laura. Thanks for your note. My impression, too, is that authors are under a lot of time pressure after the first one to get books out on schedule, which explains why series can go downhill, and also some of the bloat you refer to in later books.

Assuming that I were talented enough to get a first novel out, I can't imagine being able to write against the clock to get subsequent ones out. Makes what the consistently good authors do all the more impressive.

3.

This is what makes horse races. I preferred the second book to the first, although they were both great.

4.

Bookmarked by the billions ass sites here http://anal.goodnanoav.com

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