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on 5 March 2010
The third book in this marvelous mystery series finds Detective Chief Inspector Arthur St. Just investigating a murder at St. Michael's College at Cambridge University. The most unusual thing about this assortment of former students who have been invited back to St. Mike's is that they have all been very successful financially, but there is also a lot of past history tying these people together. Now the Master and the Bursar look forward to this weekend with the hope of convincing them to make much needed financial contributions. The old place is crumbling down and some serious repairs need to be made. Unfortunately, the guest list includes Sir James Bassett, his current wife India and his former wife Lexy Laurant. Everybody knows that combination will spell trouble of some kind. When one of the potential donors is found murdered St. Just and Sergeant Fear must forsake their time off to find the culprit.

Once again a mystery by G. M. Malliet gives lovers of detective stories a really good, difficult mystery to solve while also including her trademark tongue in cheek presentation of the classic Golden Age novel. The plot of the story, the actual mystery, was very well done. I certainly did not foresee the twist presented at the end. There are appearances by Portia De'Ath (from Death and the Lit Chick: A St Just Mystery (Book 2) (St. Just Mysteries) - the second book in the series) who is supposed to be spending her summer at St. Mike's working on her thesis but is in reality getting more of her mystery novel written. The relationship between St. Just and Portia has progressed to an understanding between them, but St. Just is adamant about not allowing Portia to become involved in this investigation in order to protect her and also to keep his private life and his profession separate. I can't help but wonder if this author is going to be able to continue along that path for much longer. It just seems that these two characters are meant to investigate crimes together.

This was a very satisfying read for me. I enjoyed it very much and appreciate the growth I see in these characters from one book to the next. Even Sergeant Fear's darling little daughter Emma is back with her programming abilities for his cell phone. If you have not read either of the other two books in the series, don't worry, this is very definitely a stand alone book. Any spoofing of the "cozy" mystery or the standardized "police procedural" is done in a very gentle, warm way. This book has been released in the States for several months now and there are already quite a few reviews there. One complaint mentioned is the final twist in this novel. I agree that it was not the best solution for explaining how this crime was committed. What I do think is that my overall enjoyment of the book was not diminished by the choice the author made for that explanation. If you don't want the solution revealed to you, I would advise using caution when reading the reviews from AmazonUS because one review gives the entire solution. G. M. Malliet does give the readers a list of the cast of characters, a diagram of the College grounds, chapters with honest-to-goodness titles, and a mystery written in a style which takes me back to "the good old days". A cracking fine novel for me.
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on 7 February 2014
This is book three in the St just series and "just" as enjoyable as the others! It has a feel good effect, set in Cambridge at St Micheal's collage with a cast of eccentric characters; the inventively named Portia De'Ath(St Just's love interest) a sergeant with a sense of humour and some seriously screwed up suspects. Its lighthearted, tongue in cheek reading, just the thing to while away an afternoon, great stuff.,. I wish she would write some more.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 May 2016
G. M. Malliet is an American author of traditional ‘Golden Age’ murder mysteries. Lovers of gentle stories may find this an enjoyable read, although the characterisation is basic and the Cambridge setting is drawn from the author’s studies there. Frequently the insertion of information, for example, about rowing which impinges on the plot, is done in such a way as to bring the development of the story to a stop.

This is the third and final book in the series featuring DCI Arthur St. Just, his uninspired colleague Sergeant Fear and girlfriend Portia De’ath, who is supposed to be completing her thesis at St Michael’s but much prefers writing mysteries. If an author populates a novel with characters whimsically named Lexy Laurant, Gwennap Pengelly, Hermione Jax, the pathologist Dr Malenfent, Augie Cramb, William Trinity and Mary Goose then hopes that their descriptions add extra dimensions and do not just offer stereotypical caricatures.

A group of well-heeled graduates of the somewhat impoverished St Michael’s College have been invited back by the Master for a weekend that, he hopes, will culminate in a series of large cheques being handed over to the College authorities. The group, who were studying in the late 1980s, include the literary knight Sir James Bassett, his wife India, the celebrity crime reporter Pengelly, the withdrawn American financier Karl Dunning and his whinging wife Constance, Texan dot-com millionaire Cramb and Geraldo Valentiano, who insists he is not a gigolo, and escorts the sexy Lexy. The latter and Sir James met, married and divorced whilst at Cambridge so their presence within the group might be expected to cause fireworks.

A body is found next to the boathouse and through a process of largely interviewing suspects [and repeatedly asking them what their impressions are of one another], St Just unmasks the killer in front of the whole group in a rather sub-standard Agatha Christie setting. St Just, although attractive to every woman who meets him, is no Poirot and the plot fails to give him much in the way of credibility or support.

The revelation about the murder is preposterous which might not matter if the writing had been more engaging. The characters bump into one another in a series of twos and threes and exchange rather unconvincing dialogue – the kind of dialogue that an American might put in the mouths of representatives of English classes. Unfortunately she puts even more unconvincing Americanisms into the mouth of her Texan millionaire [‘But there was no beef in that taco, no sirree. No huevos in that ranchero.’]. This is all the more surprising given that the book was first published in the USA [which explains the Americanisms that initially surprised me].

The three St Just novels and, thereafter, the five Max Tudor books have appeared annually since 2008. This might suggest that not a great deal of effort goes into them and/or that, having written three books about St Just, Ms Malliett has little more to say about him and his colleagues. This is perhaps supported by reviewers who found the first two books better – the first, ‘Death of a Cozy Writer’, won the 2008 Agatha Award for the Best First Novel. As with most books of this sub-genre, a map [of the rear grounds of the college] is provided but this makes not one iota of difference.

The author clearly writes with a great deal of affection for the Golden Age of British murder mysteries, but too often it feels that she is just going through the motions. There are enough sparkles to convince the reader that the author has considerable talents but, rather like Sir James’s rower son, she needs to stir herself more.

This would be a reasonable read for a very relaxing holiday or, as in my case, the final book in a selection of 3 for £1 at a charity shop.
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on 24 October 2010
I have read the two previous novels ("Death of a Cozy Writer" and "Death and the Lit Chick"). I loved the first one and liked the second one.
However, I am not at all keen on this latest book. Firstly, this book sounds like a copy of the last one, just in a different setting. And secondly, the story is rather muddled in many places and riddled with inconsistencies.

Also, Ms. Malliet is using both US and English terms in the same book, which I find somewhat irritating.
In this latest book, Ms. Malliet uses US sizes for clothes (Lexy Laurant thinks to herself that she is a size 4).
What the heck is a size 4? I am not familiar with those sizes, and I am sure, neither was Lexy, being from the UK.

Also, just as an example, the word 'travelling' was written both the English and the American way, and both the English term 'Mobile Phone' and the American term 'Cell Phone' is used. In fact, St. Just was 'thinking about Seb's cell phone' in one instance.

And why did Ms. Malliet use a many-syllable GERMAN word like "Oberbürgermeister" in her story? Only someone who speaks German would know what she is talking about. And what does ZAFTIG mean? Apparently, St. Just thinks that word applies to Portia. What language is ZAFTIG? It's not English and it's not German. The closest I can get to a German word is Saftig, with an 'S', which means 'Juicy' in English. But I can't imagine that's what St. Just meant.

Another thing I have noticed is that Ms. Malliet writes in an old-fashioned style, but the story plays in the present. I can't remember when I last heard anyone under the age of 75 using the word "Jolly" (and "rum", unless they are talking about the alcoholic variety). That's very "Jeeves and Wooster", and sounds completely wrong in this modern world story.
In fact, I would have much preferred it if Ms. Malliet's stories were set in the early 1900s, especially with her style of writing.

Right after I found out who the killer was, this book landed straight in the bin.
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on 29 May 2014
an excellent example of the genre of cosy crime which is one of my favourite forms of pastime i always like this author
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on 13 February 2016
Less complicated cast of characters than other books in this series. Helps if you've read these books in order.
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on 10 June 2016
Great item good quality fast delivery many thanks
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on 11 November 2015
Very enjoyable easy read
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on 17 May 2016
very good
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