Monday, August 11, 2014

The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley

This is the second Faith Morgan Mystery I've read but this particular installment was actually the first written.  I didn't have too much trouble jumping in with the second book, The Advent of Murder but The Reluctant Detective provides the reader with a bit more of the background on Faith's life.

The book opens with Faith (former policewoman turned vicar) visiting a small parish in Little Worthy in the area where she had grown up.  Crime has a way of following this unlikely vicar and not surprisingly she witnesses the death of the current vicar--right in the middle of the communion service.  Being on the scene, she steps in to help and as she was about to start CPR, she notices an odd appearance and odor around the victim's mouth. Suspecting murder, she has the police summoned. And who should show up but a former boyfriend (just a little awkward).

Her natural curiosity keeps her interested in helping solve the case but she's also trying to balance her interim responsibilities of helping plan for the previous vicar's funeral, trying to understand and counsel the prodigal son in his grief, keep up with deanery meetings and avoid spending too much time with the former boyfriend assigned to the case.  In the interim, Martha is staying with her sister which has its own challenges.

The mystery is a light-hearted look at some of the ups and downs of parish life. Martha is sort of a cross between Agatha Christie's sleuthing Miss Marple and Jan Karon's caring Father Tim from the Mitford series.  Life in the village isn't always what it seems and there is a lot of grief and sorrow running just below the surface of so many lives.

I will say that the author does drop enough clues that an attentive reader will most likely figure out the suspect before the end.  Still the reader will hit a surprise or two along the way.  A nice contemporary version of the classic English cozy--making a great companion at the beach, on a trip or for a rainy day inside.

The best way to figure out if this book is for you is to read an excerpt.  Both The Reluctant Detective and The Advent of Murder can be purchased directly from Kregel Publications.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Reluctant Detective for the purpose of review. A positive review was not required and no other compensation was received.

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