Friday, September 9, 2016

Dear Great Book Guru,  With the beginning of the Fall months, I am looking for a mystery series to throw myself into- I love a British village setting- something with lots of local color and character development- any ideas? Autumnal Mystery Lover

Dear Autumnal Mystery Lover,  I just arrived back from the annual Barbara Pym Conference in Oxford, England where I was introduced to a great series that meets all your demands: Hazel Holt’s SHEILA MALORY NOVELS.  Hazel Holt was Pym’s literary executor and she died recently so this year’s conference was a tribute to Holt.  Sheila Malory is a middle-aged writer living in the lovely hamlet of Taviscombe about two hours south of London. Her daily routines and encounters with friends and townspeople form the basis of each of Holt’s twenty mysteries. Interestingly, much of the happenings in Taviscombe remind me of life here in Sea Cliff whether it be restaurant encounters, clandestine meetings, or unscrupulous property development.  My favorite so far was A TIME TO DIE. Malory fights a noble fight against a large corporation that is trying to rezone a large tract of land potentially changing the entire character of her beautiful village.  Soon there are a few suspicious deaths that Malory investigates, leading her to believe some people will let “nothing or no one stand in their way.”  A fascinating study of the banality of evil- highly recommended!

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