An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good – Helene Tursten (Translated by Marlaine Delargy)

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good

I spotted this short story collection (and its sequel) over on @oldbookdreamer’s Instagram page and loved the title. When my copy arrived, I was even more delighted by the size – it’s pleasingly small, like books were hundreds of years ago, and it’s a beautiful little hardback. And then there’s 88-year-old Maud, who I can’t help admiring, even if she does tend to dispatch those who get the way of her quiet existence.

Maud lives rent-free in an enormous apartment in Gothenburg, Sweden. We learn about the background of this arrangement in the stories – what is clear early on is that Maud is determined to maintain her solitary and settled existence at all costs. In the first of the stories, ‘An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems’, a new neighbour starts to cast a covetous eye over Maud’s apartment. Maud’s solution sets the tone for the rest of the collection, giving us a new aging female character to love, albeit uncomfortably. Most of the people Maud kills are undeniably horrible but, in the case of ‘The Problem’ to be resolved in ‘An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmas Time’, it’s not so much a need to help another woman that drives Maud’s actions as the desire for the noise from the apartment above to just stop.

Maud is not dissimilar from Miss Marple in some ways – apart from the whole ‘being-the-actual-murderer’ thing, obviously – both use their advanced age to their advantage, choosing to appear muddled or frail when it suits them. Both have sharp minds and see the greed motivating many people. In most cases, both are responsible for unpleasant characters getting their comeuppance. It’s just that Maud’s solution is more deadly.

I’m looking forward to the next collection arriving now. I’m also keen to start reading Tursten’s other crimes series – DI Irene Huss and Inspector Embla Nyström both make appearances in Maud’s life in ‘An Elderly Lady is Faced With a Difficult Dilemma’. Maud has them frustrated, for now at least. An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good is a quick read but a marvellous one. Highly recommended.

One thought on “An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good – Helene Tursten (Translated by Marlaine Delargy)

  1. Pingback: An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed – Helene Tursten | Books and Wine Gums

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