A Brush with Death is a remarkable first novel by Ali Carter. It is remarkable on many levels not least by the route that Ali has taken to write it. Ali was born in Scotland and read History of Art at University and followed a career in Investment Banking. Then in 2011 Ali had a dreadful bicycle accident. After major brain surgery, she set herself a challenge to walk from Canterbury to Rome. This was a three-month pilgrimage. It was after this that she decided to follow her passion of being a fine artist. She also does drawings of pets to commission. In her first novel, A Brush with Death, her main character is a Pet Artist, Susie Mahl.
A Brush with Death is a charming murder mystery novel, set among the aristocracy in the idyllic English Countryside. Susie is staying with the Earl of Greengrass and his family. Of course, there are the ongoing family disputes which run through the novel. Susie’s character is light and amusing, and it is through her eyes that we get to know the other characters, such as Asquintha Cornfeld and Antonia Codrington. True to form there is the aged Nanny who is continuing to look after the next Earl’s sons. She knows everything that is going on within the family and is an important source of information for Susie to work with.
Susie is commissioned to paint the uncooperative dog Situp belonging to the Codringtons. Before she is able to complete this the Earl is found dead in the village church graveyard, after leaving the church service for a bathroom break! Susie has a keen mind for detection and is hot on the case to solve this murder. Although there is resistance by the police to listen to her she manages in the end to piece the mystery together.
A Brush with Death is a charming and amusing murder mystery. It contains great character observations and is written with humour. She brings to life the world of the aristocracy and everything that goes with it. A pleasant change from the dark Norwegian Noir genre. It is definitely a book to take on holiday.
I’m sure there will be more Suzie Mahl mysteries to follow.
Some other reviews:
‘A delicious new voice in crime writing… Excellent on the English aristocracy and written in a fine wry style.’ – Daily Mail
‘An entertaining read, and one that had me up to the wee small hours.’ – Crimesquad
‘Absorbing, charming and funny, A Brush With Death heralds a fresh and welcome new voice in crime writing. Susie Mahl is also a welcome new detective: witty, warm and very inquisitive.’ – Antonia Fraser
‘A Brush with Death is a perfectly English mystery, with an abundance of all the right jokes, details, and muddy dogs. Author Ali Carter’s first book is a lovely romp and shows promise for a wonderful tongue-in-cheek mystery series.’ – Foreword Reviews
‘Brilliantly enjoyable; coolly observed.’ – The Tablet
‘Animal lovers, Anglophiles, and fans of humorous, socially observant whodunits will look forward to the next Susie Mahl mystery.’ – Publishers Weekly
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