Monday, October 11, 2021

An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good - Helene Tursten


Like Dexter, Maud’s more famous fictional serial killer peer, Maud doesn’t kill anyone that doesn’t pretty much deserve killing. Dexter probably has killed more bad people than Maud will ever manage to knock off, but then Dexter isn’t 88-years-old either. Maude, on the other hand, is very near 89 by the end of Helene Tursten’s An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good, and she’s still going strong, so who knows what her final bodycount will total?


An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good is a collection of five stories featuring Maud, the “elderly lady” in question, who has lived in the same large apartment in Gothenburg, Sweden, for her whole life. Due to a legal clause her father managed to slip into a sales contract, Maud has lived in the apartment entirely rent-free for the last several decades, something that is a constant irritant to its owner and her fellow apartment building tenants. Maud has no real friends, and she likes it that way. She is not a lady to ignore the small stuff, and those who threaten her emotional peace or threaten to harm her in any way often pay the ultimate price for their behavior. That may sound a little drastic on Maude’s part, but Tursten’s stories are so funny, and Maude’s victims so deserving of a whack or two on the head, that readers can’t help but laugh at Maude’s shenanigans while cheering her on. 


The five stories collected here were written between 2007 and 2018, but Maud’s attitude  changes very little over time (the five stories are not even presented in the order in which they were written). Sometimes Maud is out there avenging old friends, sometimes neighbors (she has a vested interest in this one), and sometimes just — as she sees it — defending herself. Interestingly, the fifth story turns out to be a prequel to the story that comes just before it so that everything can be seen again from Maud’s point of view rather than that of the first person narrator (and neighbor of Maud’s) who gives us the original version of why a dead body was found in Maud’s apartment. That fourth story (“The Antique Dealer’s Death) is the only one of the five told in the first person; the other four are all in the third person.


Bottom Line: Maud is a hoot. Readers may feel a little guilty about laughing at the way Maud eliminates her problems, but it is impossible not to cheer her on. A second collection, of six stories, titled An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed has just been published, and it promises to continue Maud’s adventures and test her skills to stay out of prison. Go, Maud, go…


(Both collections are translated into English by Marlaine DeLargy.)


Helene Tursten

16 comments:

  1. I could tell you enjoyed this quite a bit from the enthusiasm in your writing. I hope if I life to her age, I'm just as feisty!

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    1. The stories are cleverly plotted and Maud is a great character. Good fun.

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  2. I am glad you liked this, Sam. I thought it was fun and clever.

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    1. I agree, Tracy. I like the stories and the way that the author connected the last two a bit. From what I can tell, that last story may lead right into the situation that Maud finds herself in in the new collection.

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  3. These books and all of the stories sound like such fun! I've seen so many good reviews of Elderly Lady adventures--glad you have added your vote to the Tursten's books.

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    1. I think you'll like the stories, Jen. Despite the murder-per-story pace, these are actually pretty lighthearted. That's not easy to pull off, but the author manages it.

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  4. I really must read this. Maud sounds like the kind of old lady many of us aspire to be.

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    1. The stories seem pretty popular with everyone that's read them so far, Dorothy. I'd be interested in your take on them if you decide to read one of the books.

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  5. I sometimes think I would quite like to be an assassin. Think I'll grab this from somewhere.

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    1. Cath, I think the best thing about Maud is how smart she is. She uses a "walker" when she wants to appear frail, she pretends her hearing his bad, she pretends she can't remember details or keep them in order, etc. Old age is the perfect disguise for an assassin.

      She is just too smart for her victims to have much of a chance against her.

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  6. I'm so glad you enjoyed Maud, too... she is really something! I enjoyed the second book, too, and feel one more could wrap up her story nicely.

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    1. I get the impression that the second book picks up where the first one ended, with Maud having caught the attention of a couple of detectives who aren't fooled by her act. I hope that's right because I'd love to see what she is capable of when she starts to get pressured.

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  7. I've got to read these books! Maud does sound like a hoot. :D

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    1. Pretty sure that you'll love the stories, Lark. Give 'em a shot...

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  8. Maud sounds hilarious! I'll have to give her a go. Glad you enjoyed.

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  9. It's a nice tongue-in-cheek kind of book that I need to read every so often, especially these days. I'm waiting on the second collection still, but looking forward to more of Maud's fatal-for-some adventures.

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