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3 Stars Out Of 5
Okay. Just okay.
September 5, 2013
While attending the dawn service of Ascension, Felicity is horrified to see someone fall from the tower and land at her feet. It seems there is another mystery when she picks up a piece of paper with a strange symbol that dropped from the victim's fingers and it bursts into flame as she opens it. Although it looks like an accident or suicide, it's obviously a murder (otherwise why is it the opening scene in a book series called The Monastery Murders?).
This is a murder mystery, and starts well with a body appearing almost immediately. But the mystery of poor Hwyl's death is then ignored as Antony and Felicity go walking in Wales, and apart from the obvious fact that Hwyl is Welsh, this has no apparent relevance to the mystery. In fact, I was about 75% of the way through the novel before they started to address the mystery at all, and then it was quickly apparent (to me at least) who was behind it.
The walk, as described, was much like I imagine a real walk across Wales would be: long and boring, with occasional short bursts of action. It was supposed to be ecumenical (i.e. representing all the Christian world), but was actually Anglicanâ€”and high Anglican at that, complete with bells and smells, praying exclusively out of the prayer book, and saying the Stations of the Cross at regular intervals. This wouldn't have bothered me except the characters made a point of saying the walk was ecumenical, and it detracted from what was supposed to be the mystery of Hywl's death.
An Unholy Communion made a lot of references to deliverance, exorcism and demonic powers working against Christianity. While this was relatively well explained, I didn't feel either of the main characters had real understanding. Antony displayed a solid practical understanding (e.g. knowing which prayers to pray), but didn't seem to see the bigger picture linkages (like wondering if two teenagers who wear black decorated with black and constantly quote Twilight are actually Christians). And Felicity seemed to be entirely ignorant of the dark sideâ€”she reminded me a little of some of Dr Who's companions from the 1960's.
One bugbear I constantly have with American authors setting books in Britain is their research and language. I was happy to find the research in An Unholy Communion was excellent (as I expected it to be. I've read several of her historical fiction epics, and they were outstanding). Given all the excellent research, it was distracting to see language issues: the reference to Cwm Rhondda spelled incorrectly, and the very English Antony using several Americanisms (gotten, granola bar, grill).
An Unholy Communion is the third in The Monastery Murders series, the first one I've read and probably the last. It didn't work for me as a murder mystery, and I didn't like the characters sufficiently to care what happens next.
Thanks to ARCBA, Lion Fiction and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
Loved when the three nails are found, what they symbolize you will need to read the book. Head into a really good historical mystery. You will find that this is a very well researched book. It is also the third book in the series, and although it can be read alone, I would recommend you get to know everyone, and read the first one!
I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.
Donna Fletcher Crow in her new book, "An Unholy Communion" Book Three in The Monastery Murders series published by Lion Fiction returns us to the English countryside and Felicity and Father Antony.
From the back cover: First light, Ascension morning. From the top of the tower at the College of the Transfiguration, voices rise in song.
Felicity's delight turns to horror when a black-robed body hurtles over the precipice and lands at her feet.
Her fiance Father Antony recognizes the corpse as Hwyl Pendry, a former student, who has been serving as Deliverance Minister in a Welsh diocese. The police, ignoring the strange emblem of a double-headed snake clutched in the dead man's hand, label the death a suicide. But Hwyl's widow is convinced otherwise, and pleads for Felicity and Antony to help her uncover the truth.
Matters grow murkier as Felicity and Antony, leading a youth pilgrimage through rural Wales, encounter the same sinister symbol as they travel. Lurking figures follow them. Then a body is found face down in a well . . .
Ingeniously plotted by a master of contemporary suspense, An Unholy Communion weaves Great Britain's holy places and history with an intricate mystery that will keep readers guessing to the very end.
Here's a question: who throws ministers off of college towers early in the morning? Then who does not want a walking tour of Wales to succeed? Is there some kind of cult involved or is there just one person? Okay that was three questions but this mystery is one of Ms. Crow's best and pits Felicity and Father Anthony against a very dangerous foe. Ms. Crow has successfully blended history, religious history and mystery into a wonderful stew that will keep you guessing right up to the very end. Felicity and Father Antony are up there in great partners in crime-think Nick & Nora Charles or Jonathan & Jennifer Hart. Donna Fletcher Crow has created two very unique characters that get along so well together and make such a special team in investigating murder. "An Unholy Communion" is a very exciting book that will keep you engrossed in the characters as well as life in England. This is a wonderful series and I am glad I discovered Donna Fletcher Crow and her wonderful heroes. I recommend this book highly.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. 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 Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
"An Unholy Communion" is the third book of "The Monastery Murders" and although it can probably be read as a stand-alone, my recommendation is to read it as part of the series. One may not get the feel of the characters that they would get if all the books were read in order.
In book 3, Felicity witnesses a murder that has been deemed as a suicide. With subtle clues and wonderful descriptions, one can get swept away in trying to figure out the mystery. I have read all the books in the series and have nothing but praise for Donna Fletcher Crow's attention to detail and lively characters. I haven't decided if Felicity or Father Anthony is my favorite. I seem to go back and forth between them, and have grown to love both!
Donna's books demonstrate her love for British history. They are well researched and deeply detailed - making the reader feel like they are truly in the story. I think that is one of the things I most love about her writing style. Her books are to be savored and not read quickly (in my opinion), and I always block a nice amount of time to dedicate to just reading slowly and savoring them.
Make sure to add this book - and series if you haven't read any of them - to your must read list today. These books are great reads! Recommended to those that love books about British history (especially church history) and those that love cozy mysteries.
Please note - this dapples with a darker side and deals with issues of the occult.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the Litfuse tour. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.
I got lost in the book several times and mostly couldn't wait to get finished. This book was easily skimmed while retaining the general storyline. The incessant detail and observations were more about the author than the characters in the story. It was obvious the author did her homework and even travelled the same route she used in the book. The beauty of the area captured her imagination but she didn't translate it to the written page very well.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. 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 Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."