A Brush With Death: A Susie Mahl Mystery by Ali Carter
|A Brush With Death: A Susie Mahl Mystery by Ali Carter|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The first book in a promising new series will remind you of Downton Abbey and Miss Marple, except that this Miss M is a pet portraitist with a penchant for rather expensive underwear, and it's purely for her own pleasure.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: June 2018|
|Publisher: Point Balnk|
|External links: Author's website|
I'm not normally a fan of books featuring amateur detectives, but something drew me inexorably to A Brush With Death: there's a dog on the cover, a big dog and I couldn't resist. Time to put away my prejudices and see what debut novelist Ali Carter had come up with.
Wisely, she's stuck with what she knows best. She's an artist from life, with an emphasis on colour and paints pet portraits to commission. Her heroine, Susie Mahl, is a pet portraitist as well as developing a talent, as this story progresses, as a sleuth. She'd received a commission in the village of Spire to produce a portrait of Situp, the Deerhound and it was whilst staying with the dog's owners that the local grandee, Alexander, Lord Greengrass, was murdered. A prostate problem meant that he was in the habit of nipping out of the Sunday morning church service to relieve himself and his life ended with his clothing in undignified disarray. Susie Mahl was one of the first people on the scene.
Ali Carter is a debut author and A Brush With Death shows great promise. The standout feature is Susie herself: Carter brings her off the page superbly well and it was a delight to read what she has to say about colours and pet portraiture. I loved too that she has a penchant for delectable underwear and was extra pleased to read that it's because she loves it rather than to please a man. Hurrah! Her Catholic faith matters to her and she knows that when she marries there will be no possibility of divorce: she views the market carefully, but is definitely looking.
The setting is excellent too: there's a touch of Jane Austen in the way that those families who are not as wealthy as they used to be are brought within the milieu, as long, that it, as they provide good value. Lady Greengrass is happy to rely on Susie Mahl as a companion-cum-assistant after her husband's death (Susie's despatched to stay at Nanny's house, you know) and Susie's happy to take every opportunity to delve as deeply as she can into what's happened.
I was not quite so impressed by the plot. I already had my suspicions about one character early on and a clue confirmed that I was most probably right before we were very much further into the book. The book was still a good read and it might be that other would not pick up on the clue that confirmed my suspicions. I'll certainly be looking to read the next book in the series and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals you might also enjoy By the Light of a Lie by Marjorie Orr.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Brush With Death: A Susie Mahl Mystery by Ali Carter at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy A Brush With Death: A Susie Mahl Mystery by Ali Carter at Amazon.com.
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