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5 Stars Out Of 5
Poisoned Communion Wine Murder Mystery Thriller
August 16, 2014
Martha Ockley in her new book, The Reluctant Detective Book One in the Faith Morgan Mystery series published by Kregel Publications introduces us to Faith Morgan.
From the back cover: Couldnt resist touching the body, eh? observed Ben. Faith was defiant. I had to check for a pulse.
Faith was a cop, and a good one. She and her boss (and boyfriend) Detective Inspector Ben Shorter tackled criminals and solved crimes across south-east England. They were a good team. But Faith grew disillusioned with Britains tough police culture. . As her disquiet grows, she starts to ask bigger questions and ends up as a priest in the Church of England, a job from which she considers she can do more good than any police investigation. In the process she and Ben part company: he cant stand God-botherers, and she finds his convictions-at-any-cost attitude treads on too many vulnerable people.
Faith may have quit the world of crime, but crime has not let her go. Newly ordained, she arrives in the village of Little Worthy, near Winchester, to look around the parish. Within an hour of her arrival she witnesses the sudden shocking death of a fellow priest. To her distress, the DI assigned to the case is Ben.
At the Bishops urging, Faith stays on to look after the improbably named parish of Little Worthy. As she meets her parishioners she learns some surprising details about her apparently well-loved predecessor, and starts to suspect a motive for his death. The cop may have donned a clerical collar, but the questions keep coming. How will she reconcile her present calling with her past instincts? Is she in danger herself? What should she do about Ben?
Then a further horrifying event deepens the mystery
Poisoned communion wine what a way to go. Obviously someone didnt like him. Faith started out her career as a cop, now she is a priest how do the two careers go together? And should they? Faith Morgan, to me, is one of the most interesting characters in detective fiction. I mean, come on, a lady priest who used to be a detective and had a boyfriend. How much more unique can you get? And I have never heard of poisoned communion wine before and enjoy this to no end. Faith just cannot let go of the mystery and feels she must solve it so she and her ex-partner, Ben, set out to find the motive. They feel that once they find the motive for murder they will find the murderer, however the murderer is none too keen about being discovered. Faith Morgan has a keen observant eye that catches all the little things that even I missed, and I was watching for them. Martha Ockley is an extremely talented writer who really knows how to tell a story that will grab you and keep you flipping pages until you reach the end. The Reluctant Detective is a very exciting book that will keep you engrossed in the characters as Ms. Ockley puts them through their paces. I am so looking forward to the next book from this very talented author.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
I am glad to have discovered the writing of Martha Ockley because The Reluctant Detective is a well-written British cozy mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed. No scary suspense or blood and gore, just an entertaining and well-plotted whodunit. Similar to other cozies with its charming English village setting, amateur detective, and quirky characters, spiritual depth and characterization go deep. The Reluctant Detective won't fit into the evangelical mold that some readers demand, as there is a little social drinking and mild profanity a couple of times, yet there is a spiritual depth that felt comfortable and inspiring.
Essential to any good cozy mystery is an idyllic English village, and Martha vividly brings the fictional village of Little Worthy, Winchester, to life with its historical church, village green, and surrounding farms. Enchanting, yes, but not quite as idyllic as one would expect. The beauty and history of St. James's church, Faith's first congregation, are also vividly conveyed.
The mystery is well developed, with humor and a strong ensemble cast. Clues are dropped along the way, but I didn't figure out the murderer's identity until fairly close to the end. In fact, I read murder mysteries for the enjoyment of characterization and plot, rather than trying to figure out who's guilty.
Faith Morgan is a complex character that I really liked. Prior to being ordained into the Church of England, Faith had worked as a police officer for several years and been in a long-term relationship with Detective Inspector Ben Shorter. Even now as one of the clergy, she still likes investigating and is quite good at it - "talking to people, analyzing their expressions, reading their body language, peering into their lives; fitting together the broken puzzle of what they said and didn't say, and why.
Faith witnesses a murder upon her first visit to St. James's and Ben is assigned to the case, which creates great romantic tension. It's hard to imagine all the reasoning, effort, and discipline it must have taken for Faith to break it off with Ben, leave the police force, and pursue the ministry. What a contrast is given between these two: "Ben, who thought of God and redemption as childish fantasy; she, the woman who had given up so much to live by that belief." I am eager to see how Martha develops these two characters in future stories.
I liked the description of how Faith had gradually been drawn into the ministry: "She had first found faith in faces; in people transformed by faith. She thought of the bereaved mother of a teenage knife victim she had met in her third year in the police force. She remembered the woman's sorrow, her flashes of wit; her extraordinary forgiveness and hope."
The Reluctant Detective is an enjoyable and satisfying mystery, and I look forward to more adventures with Faith Morgan. Recommended to fans of British cozy mysteries and detective novels. 5 stars in comparison to other books in this genre.
Thank you to Lion Fiction for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Genuine characters giving faith a fighting chance.
August 13, 2014
Sufficient in Jesus
I really, really like Faith Morgan.
A cop-turned-vicar, she's got the essence of both her past profession and her current ministry inside of her. Sometimes they seem to be polar opposites, and she questions whether she is made to be either. And then their are times she can see Christianity and police-work meshing together.
This mystery, the first in very promising series, is just the right length with just the right plot intensity and fine character building.
The author strikes the balance between unfolding a serious mystery and letting us peek into small town politics and private relationships.
Faith is sensitive- to fine details in a crime scene and to a breaking human heart. She's also tough without being hard- she can deal with a terrible scene and yet remember the humanity that exists within it.
And that's what sets her apart from her former partner, Inspector Ben Shorter. Ben is a good cop, but his worldview sees only criminals and victims. He sees tragedy, with no real redemption possible- only justice and punishment. And that is where Faith disagrees with him.
She sees the Image of God- broken and tarnished and horribly disfigured, but she still sees it.
Read this one, and then go get The Advent of Murder, and continue your friendship with Faith Morgan.
I grew up on Agatha Christie so I love a good British mystery. This is a good one.
Faith Morgan used to be a policewoman. The suffering she saw in the loved ones of victims convinced her to enter the church and become a vicar. She is visiting Little Worthy, the possible location for her first position in her new career. She is invited to the Sunday service, meeting those who might be her parishioners. She is stunned when the soon to retire vicar falls to the floor dead after his first sip of the communion wine.
Faith finds it hard to keep her police training from taking over. When she sees and smells the telltale signs of poison, she insists the police be called. When her old flame, Detective Inspector Ben Shorter shows up, her life becomes more complicated on several levels.
I really liked this mystery. Ockley has done a great job of inserting clues here and there. I love it when the bad guy is identified and my reaction is, right I do remember that clue, and that one! There are a bunch of red herrings too, just to keep us on our toes.
I love the characters. There are some quirky ones, just like in any small village. Faith is a well crafted heroine. She has the compassion of her new career yet the inquisitive nature from her old career. I really like her.
American readers need to remember that one's Christian faith and practice is a little different in England. Don't expect the people in Faith's church to be evangelical Christians as we might expect here in the U.S.
If you like the Miss Marple type of mystery, you'll like this one - as I did.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
This is book 1 in the Faith Morgan Mystery series, I've already read and reviewed the second, The Advent of Murder, so in reading them backwards I would have liked to read them in order as I think this one sets the stage for book 2. I'm going to start by saying that I enjoyed this book - I liked the mystery of the who-done-it, the setting of a not-so-quiet English village called Little Worthy and even the dialogue between some of the characters kept the book rolling along at a good clip. If I hadn't been down with a migraine I would have finished the book sooner than I did - it took me two days or there about to finish it - but it could have easily been done in less than a day. While I enjoyed it, I did feel the book was too short to really delve into all the relationships that Faith Morgan has - such as how she and her sister relate to each other, how she and her mom relate, Ben who is her ex-live in boyfriends, and then all the people Faith comes into contact with in Little Worthy and work as vicar.
After having read this book I'm going to have to chose my selections from England a bit more carefully, even though I noted that were some cuss words in The Advent of Murder, it seems there were a few more in this and Faith even uses some exclamations and then blames the use of said phrase on Ben. There was another issue, that didn't arise when I read the second book, for whatever reason - vicar is a reverend and it's my opinion based on Biblical reading that women really shouldn't be ministers - and so that is what Faith is. It is within the Anglican church and I believe they are bit more liberal in who they ordain as their ministers. That said there were a lot of misses in the book such as when one main character who is divorced due to her husband's adultery also mentions sleeping with a married man and then when she comes to Little Worthy she and the retiring vicar plan on marriage. No where does Faith counsel her on marriage, divorce, repentance or any such thing. Faith also makes light that as a vicar she did live with her ex-boyfriend Ben for three years - maybe she had repented but in the book it's not taken away that she ever feels sorry or repentant and puts herself in some tight situations with Ben at least once in the book.
Again, while I liked the overall plot and mystery in the book - I really had no idea up until the end who was the real suspect and when I figured out who it was things were quite shocking so Martha did a lovely job in keep up the suspense till the very end. While I'd like to see more of Faith Morgan I may have to reconsider after reading this one because of the lack of Biblical guidance - I know it's a mystery but even it can lend itself to Biblical guidance especially when a vicar is shown to be counseling someone in their parish. It's hard for me to read a book that is reported to be Christian but then almost everything I read goes against what I know and believe to be Biblical truths, if it had been listed as a secular book with a vicar as a main character I probably wouldn't be so harsh in my thoughts towards this book.
**I was provided a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.