Book Review — An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good by Helene Tursten
Rating — 4.5/5
I was in the mood to dive into a ‘one sitting’ book. Something that I could get through in a few hours, just to take a break from all the non-fiction I’ve been reading. After a quick google search for ‘books you can read in one sitting’, I stumbled upon the intriguing title, An Elderly Lady Is Up To No good.
It’s a small collection of short stories about an ‘eighty-something’ named Maud. She lives in a spacious apartment, surrounded by her father’s heirlooms. She has no family, no friends, and she likes it that way. She enjoys travelling the world and pottering around her apartment when she is home. Then, of course, she gets up to no good. What ‘no good’ is this? Serial murder!
I couldn’t help but feel a little comforted by Maud. In some strange way, she reminded me of my grandmother. She wasn’t a serial killer, but she was rather devilish under the exterior of looking like a sweet old lady. She almost got banned from the local supermarket for barging people out of the way with her mobility scooter, she also liked to flirt with my dad’s army buddies and tease her grandchildren for her own amusement. If she lived the life of Maud, I don’t think she would have ended up killing people (that would have been too messy for her), but that independently devilish streak my grandmother had is beautifully present in Maud.
I think that’s what makes this little collection so irreverent, it completely subverts the stereotype of the elderly. Maud is pushing ninety, but she still travels the world, is still self-sufficient, and is still sharp enough to use her frail-looking appearance to her advantage. She’s managed to convince those around her that she is in the early stages of senility (which may be true since she has started killing people), and she is physically strong enough to cover her tracks of bloody murder. I bleedin’ love it!
I’m struggling to find a downside to this story. There is one story that isn’t from the perspective of Maud, which reveals the investigation into one of the murders. I guess I found this bit a little boring, as I was so invested in seeing what Maud was up to. You could easily show the authorities' suspicions in one of the Maud stories. I suppose it gives the reader a break from the ‘Maud kills this person… Maud kills that person…’ but I was really enjoying it. Not sure what that says about me.
One other thing that I wanted from this collection was more stories, but this can’t really be a criticism because I am in luck… There is a sequel! An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed. You best believe I’ll be reading that one soon…