An elderly lady is up to no good : stories | Los Angeles Public Library

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BOOK REVIEW:

An elderly lady is up to no good : stories

An appropriate subtitle for this book might be: don’t mess with Maude, all she wants is peace and quiet. Mystery writer Helene Tursten, best known for the Detective Inspector Huss series,  was asked to write a short story for Christmas, and so she did: “An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmastime”.

88-year-old Maude is a combination of Charles Bronson’s character in the movie, Death Wish, Mrs. Wilberforce in the movie, The Ladykillers, and a small touch of John le Carré's low-key George Smiley. Tursten has created the perfect criminal, a senior citizen who has the cunning and vindictiveness of Bronson's character, the haplessness and sense of morality of Mrs. Wilberforce, and the deceptive appearance of George Smiley. So far she has gotten away with murder, but maybe not in the future.

There are five short stories, cleverly plotted with a female protagonist who lives in an unusual and highly coveted apartment in Gothenburg, Sweden, and loves to travel. Maude has overcome family problems and responsibilities, an unhappy romance from years ago, and wants to be able to live her life minus any untoward disturbances. She is not an indiscriminate criminal, but one who does take justice into her own hands. Dirty Harry would have loved her as a sidekick. More adventures of this senior citizen turned vigilante would be great, but that is not likely because in the last story Detective Inspector Irene Huss, who is on the scene, suspects but cannot prove that Maude did it.

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