Signet, March 2004, 5.99, 256 pp.
The small English village of Taviscombe is usually a peaceful place where everyone knows their neighbors. One of the residents Sidney Middleton is liked and respected by everyone who knows him; they also feel sorry for him because his son David is trying to push him into a nursing home. The whole village mourns when Sidney passes away and is shocked to discover the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. Someone deliberately murdered him by tampering with the chimney.
Stella learns at Sidney's funeral that he wasn't the good hearted, generous person everyone thought he was. Instead he pretended to be a nice soul. Brian Thorpe tells Mrs. Mallory he's glad that Sidney is dead as the paragon cheated on his wife with Brian's mother but then cruelly dumped her. His mother had a nervous breakdown from which she never recovered. Another resident learns that Sidney was responsible for the death of his brother in WWII. Stella begins to hear other ugly stories about the man everyone respected and for once, she does not investigate, half-hoping that someone does get away with murder.
MRS. MALORY AND THE SILENT KILLER is the quintessential English village cozy mystery. Readers are entertained by the who-done-it because there are many suspects all of whom were hurt by Sidney and had a motive for killing him. It is impossible to figure out who the actual killer is until Hazel Holt unmasks the perpetrator. The heroine is very likeable and believable, the sort of person one wants as their granny.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner