An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten

Imagine a Swedish Miss Marple who commits murders instead of solving them, and you’ve got a good start on understanding Maud, the character in Helene Tursten’s collection of stories An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, and its sequel An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed.

Maud is 88, which leads many people to think she’s soft and vulnerable – but they’re very wrong. In fact she’s as sharp and fit as ever, although she has discovered the advantages of having a cane or wheeled walker handy. She spends most of her time traveling the world, making up for lost time after spending years working to support an ill sister. It’s a quiet and enjoyable life, until problems arise that require Maud’s unique solutions. From an artist trying to steal her spacious apartment to a noisy neighbor to a thieving antique dealer, all her would-be invaders and offenders meet a sudden and sticky end, leaving Maud with her peaceful lifestyle intact.

Like Maud, this book is small and quaint in appearance but hiding darkness within, and I absolutely loved the contrast and the dry humor with which Maud’s stories are told. It was also strangely enjoyable to imagine solving everyday annoyances and inconveniences in such an extreme way, maybe because it puts everyday squabbles into perspective. Whatever the case, the triumph of Maud over a society that continually underestimates her is enjoyable to read.

If you’re looking for an escapist romp that shows how getting older can mean getting craftier – and getting even – try these books.

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