If you are tired of serious crime or of serious vampires or even of frivolous vampires of the sparkly kind then what you need is Brenda and Effie. I don't know where I first heard of them but it was quite possibly Gaskella's blog as she often covers titles that are totally new to me. I have been reading Never the Bride and Something Borrowed by Paul Magrs.
Set wonderfully, convincingly, beautifully in Whitby the series covers the exploits of two older ladies. Brenda is very old, so old that you really shouldn't ask for details. She has to wear lots of thick make-up to cover the stitches and her legs don't match, what with the original owners being different builds. Brenda is in all other respects a conventional Whitby resident: she is a very house proud owner of a B&B establishment who likes nothing more than to meet her best friend Effie (who runs the antique junk shop next door) in a cafe for a chat, or in Cod Almighty for fish and chips, when they're not guarding the gates of Hell that it is.
Paul Magrs great talent is taking the conventional and doing wonderfully absurd things with it. One minute we have two bickering elderly ladies who are really very fond of each other, and the next they're battling the forces of evil. I could begin to recount the plots of either of the books but the plots, though page turning, are not the point. Brenda and Effie are just wonderfully funny and touching. There is a lot of reality about the relationship, despite all the supernatural goings on, in fact take away the gates of Hell bit and they remind me rather of my late grandmother and her sisters. Superfically then they might seem like a cross between a cosy crime duo (like Jude and the prim one whose name I can never remember from the Fethering series) and Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg (from the Discworld books), but there is so much more going on.
The books are littered with literary and cultural allusions which are often laugh-out-loud funny. When you're reading silently in your head it is not often you have to stop to get your breath back, but the goings on of the literary academic Henry Cleavis and the Smudglings (a university based writers' group in the 1940s and 1950s who meet in the Book and Candle to hear each other's manuscripts), and demented versions of Tolkien and Lewis and someone who is a sort of satanic version of Charles Williams often had me crying with laughter. The semi-scholarlly allusions here are offset with more popuar ones including images from the cult film The Wicker Man. In fact the allusions come so thick and fast you could do with notes at the back; I am sure I missed lots of them.
In short, if you haven't guessed it, I absolutely loved these books. They were both brilliant but the the second one Something Borrowed was truly superb. I can't wait to get hold the third, Conjugal Rites.