Death of a Cozy Writer (St. Just Mystery Series #1)

Death of a Cozy Writer - G.M. Malliet 3-3.5 starsI'd rate this book higher, but I considered it a "cheat". The author withheld valuable clues from the reader or presented clues (such as old photos) that the reader couldn't see and weren't described fully, so there was no way to truly solve this mystery. The readers have to sit back and allow DCI St. Just to do it for us. Not my favorite way to read a mystery.My other reticence in reading this book was that I got the impression from reading the book's description that this was set in Victorian times. But when I started reading, I realized that it was set in modern times; somehow that turned me off. But when I picked the book up again, once I got through the first couple of chapters, I did find it intriguing. Quite a cast of characters - the Beauclerk-Fisk family and family servants. Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk is a horrid 70-something man who delights in torturing his children with his ill-humor and by constantly changing his will. None of them know who will be in or out, and while only Albert, the actor, is in need of money, as Sarah says, they grew up equating money with love - so all 4 children want to be the most loved and so, in the will.Sir Adrian sends his family and his ex-wife vulgar invitations to an engagement party. Yes, he's marrying again. His four children (Ruthven, George, Albert, and Sarah) decide that to not attend this party is likely to get them written out of the will, no matter how horrid the event might be. And none of them can quite miss the chance to meet their new mama-to-be, assuming her to be younger than any of them (all 40-something). Of the four, only Ruthven is married, to the prissy and proper Lillian (or Lilith, as Sarah calls her); but none have children of their own.When they arrive, the sibling rivalry begins in earnest. They learn that their father is already married, and to Violet Mildenhall Winthrop no less. Violet is the notorious woman who most think murdered her first husband, Lord Winthrop some 40+ years ago. A Welsh guest by the name of Davies gave her an alibi by saying that he was in bed with Lady Violet at the time Lord Winthrop's head was bashed in. But then Davies seemed to disappear...Albert, a heavy drinker, knows that his father's best is kept in the cellars. While rooting around the cellar, he discovers his father's current manuscript entitled "A Death in Scotland". Albert decides it must be about the Lord Winthrop murder, because that's where it took place. But his father insists upon hand writing his manuscripts on air mail paper, and his handwriting is impossible to read. Albert doesn't want to ask Jeffrey, the American secretary, to transcribe for him, since Albert isn't sure what the manuscript is about and if it has any bearing on his father's actions. And then, when Albert discovers his eldest brother, Ruthven's body with his head bashed in stuffed into a corner of the cellar, Albert wants to be certain that the manuscript wasn't why Ruthven was killed.DCI St. Just suspects more to come in this nestful of vipers. No one seems particularly broken up by Ruthven's death - not his father nor his wife. And sure enough, just a day or so later, Sir Adrien is found dead in his study - killed by a Scottish dirk through the heart.--------------------As I said, this book was a "cheat" to me, because vital clues were kept from the reader. For example, DCI St. Just comes across pictures from the original Scotland house party of the Winthrops, where he recognizes several faces. Except that the author doesn't describe what St. Just sees, and we don't have a copy of the picture, so HOW can we possibly understand what conclusions St. Just draws upon to solve the case? Aggravating, for a mystery buff! Since I was old enough to read, I've read mysteries and loved being able to solve them before the detective in the book or at least at the same time.Not sure I'll continue with the St. Just series.