An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good: Book Review

Calling all lovers of Scandinavian cats and cozy crime fiction! Here’s a quirky little book we think you’ll find unexpectedly delightful:

Stories by Helene Tursten

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good is a collection of five short stories by Swedish author Helene Tursten, translated into English by Marlaine Delargy.

The stories revolve around the character of Maud, an 88-year-old woman who appears to be a harmless old lady but is, in fact, quite devious.


As our fellow cruisers and cozy-mystery lovers will agree, we cat-people know LOCATION and SETTING is key to our enjoyment of all adventures, and Tursten’s little collection of naughty old lady stories DELIVERS!

The setting of the book is primarily in Maud’s apartment, where she spends most of her time. Located in the city of Gothenburg, the second-largest city in Sweden, her apartment is a reflection of Maud’s personality – tidy, organized, and unassuming, displaying absolutely no detectable signs of danger. It is a small, cozy space filled with antiques and mementos of Maud’s past. The apartment is also where Maud carries out her various schemes and plans, all of which are executed with meticulous precision.

Gothenburg is known for its maritime history, vibrant cultural scene, and beautiful architecture. The city’s history of shipbuilding and maritime trade is reflected in Maud’s apartment, which is filled with nautical-themed items. The seafaring culture also informs the tone of the book, as Maud is a character who has weathered life’s storms and emerged as a survivor. The city’s location on the coast also adds to the book’s atmosphere, as the seasonal Scandinavian coastal weather color and impact how many scenes play out.

Despite the seemingly mundane setting, the mood of the book is decidedly dark. Each story is centered around a crime, and Maud is often the perpetrator. What sets the book apart, however, is the way the crimes are committed. Maud’s methods are cunning and calculated, often leaving the reader feeling paradoxically unsettled and delighted, all at the same time (much the way many people view cats as possessing a spirit of aloof diabolical whimsy). The stories are also laced with a sense of humor, albeit a dark one, as Maud outwits the people around her and gets away with her misdeeds.

The book’s tone is one of quiet satisfaction, as Maud revels in her ability to outsmart those around her. She is a character who is unapologetically herself, and the stories are told from her perspective. This gives the reader a unique insight into Maud’s thought processes and motivations. The stories also explore themes of aging, solitude, and the desire to preserve one’s independence, making Maud a complex and compelling character.


Gothenburg’s architecture also plays a role in the book’s setting. The city is known for its beautiful 19th-century buildings, and Maud’s apartment is located in one of these historic buildings. The building’s elegant façade and intricate details add to the sense of timelessness that permeates the book.

The city’s cultural scene is also reflected in the book’s setting. Gothenburg is home to several museums, theaters, and music venues, and these cultural institutions are mentioned throughout the book. Maud herself is an avid reader and appreciator of the arts, which adds to the richness of the book’s setting.

Finally, Gothenburg’s reputation as a friendly and welcoming city is reflected in the book’s sense of community. Despite Maud’s devious nature, she is still a part of the community in which she lives, and her interactions with her neighbors and acquaintances add depth to the book’s setting. The city’s reputation for inclusivity and open-mindedness also adds to the book’s tone, as Maud is a character who is unapologetically herself (when she’s not role-playing harmless senility) and is accepted by those around her (when they notice her at all).

Mischa the Cat

Are there any cats in An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good? Yes, a cat is featured in one of the stories!

The story is titled “An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmastime” and centers around Maud’s attempts to spend a peaceful Christmas holiday at home. In the story, Maud takes care of her neighbor’s cat, a black and white tomcat named Mischa, while the neighbor is away on holiday.

Mischa is described as being “dignified and reserved” and is a source of comfort and companionship for Maud during the holiday season. Maud takes great care of Mischa and even goes so far as to knit him a special Christmas sweater to keep him warm.

The cat is not a major character in the story, but its presence adds to the cozy and domestic atmosphere of the book. The relationship between Maud and Mischa also highlights Maud’s softer side and shows that she is capable of caring for others, even if she is not always forthcoming with her emotions.


In conclusion, “An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good” is a book that defies expectations. It takes a seemingly innocuous setting and imbues it with a dark and intriguing mood. Despite the book’s dark tone, the relationship between Maud and her neighbor’s cat, Mischa, highlights Maud’s softer side and adds to the cozy atmosphere of the book.

“An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good” is a well-crafted collection of stories that defies expectations. Helene Tursten’s writing is engaging, and her character of Maud is a fascinating study in contradictions. Maud is a uniquely charming character both cozy and cunning to spend time with when you’re reading curled up in bed, and her relationship with Mischa, the neighbor’s cat, highlights her softer side, making her a character you will not soon forget. A “MUST READ” for fans of Scandinavia, cozy cats, and anyone seeking the companionship of a solitary elderly female protagonist who is far from perfect, but executes her plans with such shameless flawless efficiency you cannot help but admire her.

2 thoughts on “An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good: Book Review

  • 16 February 2024 at 19:07

    Thank you for your post. I really enjoyed reading it, especially because it addressed my issue. It helped me a lot and I hope it will also help others.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *