Augusta Hawke
by Malliet, G. M.

A successful crime author puts her sleuthing skills to the test when a handsome detective involves her in a mystery surrounding her neighbors' disappearances, in the first novel of a new series from the author of the St. Just mysteries.

Agatha Award-winning G.M. Malliet is the acclaimed author of two traditional mystery series and a standalone novel set in England. The first entry in the DCI St. Just series, Death of a Cozy Writer, won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for Macavity and Anthony Awards. The Rev. Max Tudor series has been nominated for many awards as have several of her short stories appearing in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and The Strand. She lives on the East Coast of the US.

During the pandemic, mystery writer Augusta Hawke, whose townhouse faces the backs of five other townhouses, sits at her computer for hours, tracking the comings-and-goings and interactions of the people across the way, á la Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window. Augusta is especially interested in one couple, a fairly good-looking man with an absolute stunner of a wife. One day, the couple vanishes; a visit from the police confirms that they didn't just move but disappeared, leaving their baby behind. Augusta decides to research the disappearance of the couple as she would one of her own novels. Augusta is an engaging narrator, letting the reader in on the realities of being a bestselling author and the vagaries of the publishing world, chatting about any number of topics. At some point, though, readers may feel as if they're trapped in lockdown with a compulsive talker. This could use a little more believability, but it's a fun read all the same, making the most of the Rear Window connection. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

A seasoned mystery writer investigates a real-life disappearance in her Northern Virginia neighborhood. Even in an upscale neighborhood like Old Town, Zora and Niko Norman stood out, he as a highly successful family attorney specializing in parental abductions, she as an impossibly beautiful new mother. One day they're both gone without a trace, leaving behind only their splashy house and their baby son, Harry, who's safely in the custody of Zora's mother, gallery owner Genevieve Garnier. Since Detective Steve Narduzzi seems to be getting nowhere, the Normans' neighbor Augusta Hawke decides to ask questions of a few people. And not just any people. In short order, she's learned that the Garniers, moved by suspicions and antipathy, hired private eye Kent Haworth to look into Niko's background even before the marriage; she's disguised herself as a potential divorcée to interview Niko's colleague Mindy Goodacre; and she's gone looking for Trixie Steppes, the babysitter the Normans shared with another family, who seems to have vanished herself. It's an excruciatingly familiar gambit, but veteran Malliet handles it with aplomb until the very end, dispensing with most of the suspects in a few sentences each, as if they didn't bear much attention, to ground Augusta's investigations in realistic-seeming rhythms, inducements, problems, and reasonable but unheeded warnings from Detective Narduzzi-until the climactic episode suddenly turns her into a damsel in distress whose behavior, as she acknowledges, is "like something out of a bad mystery novel." A flawed but mostly superior example of the nosy-neighbor-investigates subgenre. Copyright Kirkus 2022 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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