One of the highlights of my 2008 reading was Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. Malliet, the first mystery to feature DCI St. Just of Cambridgeshire. I was so completely hooked by the first novel that I pre-ordered the second, Death of a Lit Chick, as soon as amazon.com listed it. I wondered a bit whether the follow-up would be as satisfying, mainly because Malliet created such deliciously wicked characters in Sir Adrian's family, and of course, the only recurring character is DCI St. Just. I needn't have worried, because Death of a Lit Chick features an equally engaging cast of characters. DCI St. Just travels to Dalmorton Castle in Scotland for a mystery writer's conference (he has been asked to attend as a speaker) and finds himself confronted with a gaggle of mystery writers, all with clashing personalities and huge egos, along with a publisher, agents, and a journalist. When ditzy superstar "chick lit" writer Kimberlee Kalder turns up dead, there is no shortage of suspects. St. Just is asked to assist the local constabulary with their investigations, which culminate in a hilariously over-the-top drawing room scene worthy of Agatha Christie. A cast of suspects including mystery writers is a challenge, as they all make things up for a living and seem unable to turn off the prevarication under interrogation. As St. Just unravels the web of secrets and lies, the deliciously complex plot comes to a logical yet surprising conclusion. Malliet manages to embrace the classic cozy mystery while satirizing its conventions with her sharp wit, and as we learn more about DCI St. Just, he becomes even more endearing. I'll be pre-ordering the next in the series as well.
Death and the Lit Chick on amazon