“A Murder in Malta” by Ann Crew

Friends suggested this book to me because I am going to Malta next spring, and they thought I might enjoy reading about the island. I was not disappointed. The delightful descriptions of the towns, scenery and food were a joy and a mine of information.
Likewise, the characters were fun people to spend a few hours with. Elspeth Duff, the top security adviser to Lord Kennington of the Kennington luxury hotel chain, is witty, charming, and a real individual. The various other high-level functionaries who gather around to foil an attempted terrorist attack on the chain’s Valetta flagship are likewise personable, mildly eccentric, and enjoyable.
The icing on the cake is a pair of sweet love stories entwined in the plot, which work their ways to realistic conclusions along with the mystery.
If I had to pick a problem, it is with the working out of the conspiracy. When we read a mystery, we like to solve it alongside the detective. We want little snippets of information so that we feel we are part of the action. Unfortunately, the terrorist plot is so well conceived that only a series of interrupted cryptic e-mails reveals its presence. Elspeth has no clues to go on for most of the story, and neither do we. We are forced to pick at the crumbs of a rather obvious red herring because that’s all we are given.
Other than that minor cavil, this is a good story with a pleasant travelogue thrown in for further entertainment. Recommended holiday reading for those going to Malta. Or those who are not.
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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