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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

G.M. Malliet

Part of the fun of a trip to the library is browsing the new books for ones I would otherwise miss. A few weeks ago I discovered a new mystery series by G.M. Malliet, centered around British DCI St. Just and containing various homages to and parodies of mystery writers and sub-genres. What makes these books stand out from other "themed" mystery series is Malliet's wittiness and writing skills.

An example, from Death and the Lit Chick (which takes place at a mystery writers' convention):
. . . St. Just strode briskly past, gathering odd scraps of conversation as he went.
"You have to have a corpse by page fifty-seven. Page seventy at the absolute outside."
"Says who?"
"Why, so says everyone. It's the industry standard."
This, of course, occurs on page 70. The first body does not show up until page 96 (and page 112 in Death of a Cozy Writer).

Malliet also uses that time-worn staple of mysteries, where something a character says triggers the memory of something significant in the investigator, but she can't quite put her finger on it, not until the very end just in time for the final confrontation. In other books such an event sends me flipping through previous chapters to see if I can find the connection myself. In Lit Chick and Cozy Writer, however, Malliet has St. Just figure it out two pages later, and while it is not irrelevant to the investigation, it is not crucial to the case either. Both times had me laughing out loud.
I look forward to the next installment.

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