Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Cruellest Month by Hazel Holt

The Cruellest Month by Hazel Holt is the second in the Mrs. Malory series. Sheila returns, this time heading to Oxford to do research on her latest article. Yet before Sheila arrives, a woman, Gwen Richmond, took a nasty tumble down the stairs resulting in death. Tony, Sheila's godson, doesn't feel quite right about it and *cue sleuth* tells Sheila his suspicions. Turns out Gwen Richmond was a disagreeable woman who left a lot of misery in her wake, in short a witch and if it had a "b" in front of it, it would stand for blackmail. She loved to blackmail people and hang that power of their head the way clowns like to torment little children until they wake up in a puddle of nightmares. But the problem with blackmailers is eventually someone gets tired of getting blackmailed or thinks s/he's beyond blackmail and strikes back. This is what happens with Gwen. Sheila discovers who she was blackmailing and why it was worth killing.

The author gets the title from T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land", because the story takes place in April and it's also a triple meaning. First, for the time of the year. Second, for Gwen's actions and death. Third, for what Sheila learns about a fellow from her past with whom she had a relationship.

Holt trades the idyllic countryside for the idyllic college setting. Once again, things aren't what they seem. The story's filled with a lot of charm and romance for Tony (I'm really a sucker for romance). The book drew me in and was a quick read and a series I think worth keeping up.

6 comments:

Amanda said...

Clowns are terrifying. Especially when their smiles are painted on.

Christina said...

In MST3K, Final Justice, the main character (Joe Don Baker) is in Malta chasing bad guys and there's a scene with clowns and Tom Servo says, "Clowns, nightmare fodder in any country/culture." How true it is...

Amanda said...

I love MST3k!

Christina said...

MST3K is great and they don't like clowns. They have several bits concerning clowns, including a short, "Here Comes the Circus" (I think), where two clowns are spinning on a bar and Tom says "Oh, no, they're doing it clown-style." You'll have nightmares for weeks after watching that.

Byron said...

I purchased a bootleg MST3K episode called "Jack Frost." I love the movies and the commentary, but I'm not as fond of the skits between, which I suppose you'd have to be a regular to like.

Still, I've seen a few episodes, and I enjoy them.

Christina said...

In order to enjoy the skits, you do need to know who the characters are: Joel/Mike, Tom, Crow, Dr. Forrester/Mrs. Forrester, Frank, Bobo, and Brain Guy. For someone who's not familiar with the show, the skits can be annoying, but more constant fans, it gives insight to the characters and has its own unique charm, I especially like when Tom Servo does his singing skits.