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Hazel Holt has many devoted fans in the United States and Great Britain as a writer of “cosy” British mysteries; she has published nineteen Mrs. Malory novels to date. She is also known to admirers of Barbara Pym as the friend and biographer who edited Pym’s posthumous works.
Ms. Holt originated from Birmingham, England, where she attended King Edward VI High School for Girls. She graduated from Newham College, Cambridge, and went on to work at the International African Institute in London, where she met novelist Barbara Pym and became her official biographer with the critically acclaimed, A Lot to Ask: The Life of Barbara Pym.
Holt wrote her first novel in her sixties and is a leading crime novelist. She is best known for her “Sheila Malory” series. Her son is the novelist Tom Holt.
Hazel Holt was a personal friend and literary adviser to Barbara Pym and is Pym’s official biographer. A former television critic and feature writer, she lives in Somerset, England.
on June 20, 2012 :
I discovered Hazel Holt's mysteries several years ago. I love Mrs. Malory, and her friends and village. And I own several of the later books in paperback, but was having troubles finding the early books. What a delight to find the first several for sale at Smashwords. I have just enjoyed rereading this first instalment and will be buying the others soon to fill in my collection.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on Sep. 08, 2011 :
(From my blog at http://wordvagabond.wordpress.com/ - Reviews of Independent and Small Press Publications.)
It all begins with a simple request from an old friend. Charles rings Sheila Malory from America to tell her he hasn’t heard from his fiancée, Lee, in several days. She was in Sheila’s village of Taviscombe making prepartions for their wedding. Would Sheila please made enquiries for him?
Oh, what a slippery slope! Who would have thought that a sleepy little English village could harbor so much intrigue? Well, any Miss Marple fan, for a start. But this is no mere Agatha Christie re-make. Holt is a master of storytelling in her own right. Her characters are thoroughly developed and complex, if not always likeable. The main character is instantly sympathetic, although her rationalizations for not sharing information with the police sometimes seem a bit contrived.
Gone Away doesn’t try too hard to be clever. It would not be a satisfying read for the inveterate puzzle-solver. But is excels at being exactly what it claims to be- a cozy little mystery to read by the fire with a cup of tea. Just the thing for fall reading!
I do- you knew it was coming- have a formatting complaint. The book’s synopsis, currently sandwiched between the copyright and the first chapter, should instead be located just after the cover image, as it would be on the dust-jacket of a hardcover. It may seem like a trivial complaint, but it is genuinely confusing to the reader to find a summary of the novel where they are expecting the first chapter to begin.
As for my own summary, I can certainly recommend this book to the casual mystery reader and to Anglophiles everywhere. I look forward to reading the rest of Holt’s Sheila Malory series, four of which are available from Coffeetown Press and the rest from Signet.
For now, it’s off to the library for an armful of Dorothy Sayers novels, since every author I’ve read lately seems determined to reference her. Happy reading!
(reviewed 29 days after purchase)