Agatha Award-winning author G. M. Malliet returns with Devil's Breath, the sixth mystery in her wildly popular series featuring handsome spy-turned-cleric Father Max Tudor.
Having realized there is no escape from his past as an agent, Max has offered his services to MI5 on an as-needed basis. Now it’s time for him to follow through. The body of glamorous film star Margot Browne has washed ashore from a luxury yacht and Max’s former colleague wants his help to find the murderer.
It’s a perfect “closed circle” murder since victim Margot must have been killed by one of the actors, stylists, screenwriters, or second-tier royalty aboard. The investigation into Margot’s lurid past uncovers a host of motives—it seems she was not the only person on board with a secret they’d kill to keep.
Agatha Award winner Malliet abandons subtlety in her middling sixth Max Tudor mystery (after 2015's The Haunted Season). Max's friend on the local police force, Detective Chief Inspector Cotton, views the cleric-cum-detective as "an extraordinary man of seemingly endless patience, knowledge, integrity, and bravery." And in keeping with the now larger-than-life qualities of the lead, the recipes of Max's cookbook-author wife are being used at Buckingham Palace. Max looks into the death of an aging movie star named Margot Browne (not the only heavy-handed All About Eve reference), who was a guest on the yacht of a big-time film director. The case offers a classic golden age setup, but unfortunately Max's sleuthing skills aren't at their best. At one point, after learning that Margot's corpse, recovered from the waters off Monkslip-super-Mare, bore strangulation marks, he still, bafflingly, speculates that she may have been accidentally poisoned and her body dumped overboard to cover up the mishap.