A Demon Summer is the fourth in G.M. Malliet’s series of mysteries featuring Max Tudor, a former MI5 agent, now the vicar of Nether Monkslip, a tiny English village. This book is somewhat of a departure for the series; instead of the usual village setting, it takes place in a convent. A nobleman, Lord Lislelivet, falls ill after eating a piece of fruitcake from Monkbury Abbey. At the same time, several wealthy donors who raised funds for a new guesthouse at the convent are wondering where their money has gone. Max’s bishop asks him to go to the convent and investigate. At the convent, a place which lacks television, cell phones, and a reliable internet connection, Max discovers that the nuns are divided between those who wish to keep the traditions of the abbey and those who wish to modernize and sell the abbey’s products to the outside world. Then, not long after Max’s arrival, Lord Lislelivet’s body is found in the convent’s well. Why was he murdered, and what is his connection with the goings-on at the convent? Meanwhile, Max’s love interest, Awena, a neo-pagan who owns a New Age shop in Nether Monkslip, is pregnant. While Max is looking forward to fatherhood, the couple has not yet married, partly because they haven’t decided on what form the wedding will take. And Max worries about what his bishop will think when he finds out about Awena’s beliefs and her pregnancy.
I highly recommend this series to fans of the traditional British mystery. Also, readers of Louise Penny’s Three Pines series will especially appreciate this particular entry. There are little nods to her series, especially The Beautiful Mystery and How the Light Gets In, throughout the book. But I do recommend that readers begin with the first volume, Wicked Autumn, to see how the characters' relationships develop.
A Demon Summer is available from the Browsing Collection at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.