Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Review: An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten

I kept seeing this little (and I mean physically little) book all over the place and the cover completely intrigued me. The skulls put me off some since I am the world's most cowardly reader but I couldn't resist the cross-stitch and the elderly woman of the title. The back of the book makes it sound like this is a collection of capers that would be charming and entertaining, if a little dark. And in a way, it was. Helene Tursten's An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good, translated into English from the Swedish, is not a mystery. It is not a light caper story. It is the tale of an 88 year old woman who knocks off people who need killing (or at least from her perspective they need killing). Neighbors, the fiance of her former love, a celebrity, and an antiques dealer who intends to cheat her all find themselves on the wrong side of this conscienceless octogenarian serial killer.

Written as 5 linked short stories, with 4 focused on Maud and the last centered on a detective who cannot find enough proof but knows that Maud killed the victim, the collection starts out with a lot of promise, full of engaging details and dark humor. Unfortunately it starts to feel a bit repetitive, especially the final story, which rehashes the previous story from the detective's perspective (a detective who is apparently the main character in a very popular series by Tursten). Maud's character is fascinating because the reader doesn't feel disgust for her even as she calculates how to murder the people who are annoying her beyond all endurance. She's not nasty, she's pragmatic and clever and uses her age and perceived feebleness to her advantage. The book is a very fast read and mostly entertaining, especially for those who are inclined to be tickled by people getting what they deserve (in some cases) or looking for a deadly version of the ultimate "Get Off My Lawn!"

1 comment:

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