A Very Private Grave, Monastery Murders Series #1   -     By: Donna Fletcher Crow
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A Very Private Grave, Monastery Murders Series #1

Monarch Books / 2010 / Paperback

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Product Description

When seminary student Felicity Howard finds Father Dominic bludgeoned to death---and her church history lecturer soaked in his blood---she and Father Anthony decide to follow the cryptic clues in a poem the priest handed her before his death. Will Felicity uncover ancient truths in time to solve this mystery---and save her own life? 384 pages, softcover from Monarch.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 384
Vendor: Monarch Books
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 (inches)
ISBN-13: 9781854249685
Series: Monastery Murders

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Publisher's Description

First in a new series of ecclesiastical thrillers set in the wilds of remote Yorkshire, England

Felicity Howard, a young American studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood. Following the cryptic clues contained in a poem the dead man had pressed upon her minutes before his death, she and Fr. Antony--who is wanted for questioning by the police--flee the monastery to seek more information about Fr. Dominic and end up in the holy island of Lindisfarne, former home of Saint Cuthbert. Their quest leads them into a dark puzzle ... and considerable danger.

A Very Private Grave is a contemporary novel with a thoroughly modern heroine who must learn some ancient truths in order to solve the mystery and save her own life. The narrative skillfully mixes detection, intellectual puzzles, spiritual aspiration, romance, and the solving of clues both ancient and modern.

"History and mystery and murders most foul keep the pags turning . . . A fascinating read."
--Liz Curtis Higgs, bestselling author of Thorn in My Heart

Watch the book trailer in the Kregel.com video library - www.kregel.com/video


A monastery is not a place where one would expect to witness a murder, but in Donna Fletcher Crow's mystery, A Very Private Grave, the death of a monk forces the main characters to analyze what motivates a person to kill. After the death of their friend, Brother Dominic, characters Antony and Felicity must decipher the contents of the monk's journal while escaping several murder attempts. Crow takes the reader on a dramatic and intellectual journey, revealing the mysteries of Saint Cuthbert and the internal struggles that consume the characters.

As the story progresses, the relationship between Antony and Felicity strengthens. They learn to trust one another and work as a team, though many obstacles threaten to make their partnership impossible. Their friendship solidifies when Antony anxiously tends to Felicity's physical and emotional needs when the tide is too high to rush her to the hospital for emergency medical attention.

Antony is a secular monk who is suspected of Brother Dominic's murder and must run from the police, accompanied by Felicity. Felicity is a student at Anglo-Catholic College of Transfiguration and, being close to Brother Dominic, volunteers herself to go on the journey around England with Antony to decipher the content of Dominic's journal. The adventure leads them to more risks than they could have imagined, but as their trust for each other grows, they find themselves closer to the secrets of Brother Dominic.

Being taught at a young age that he was a failure, Antony never expects much from himself. He is extremely intellectual, but bottles his emotions to avoid recalling past pains. Felicity is young and innocent to the terrors of the world and, therefore, finds it difficult to understand how someone could be evil enough to commit murder. Both characters choose to look past their fears and misgivings in order to forward themselves personally and for the benefit of solving the murder.

The novel was easy to read and the history of Saint Cuthbert was enlightening. However I did not feel that it had much of a biblical focus. The characters turn to themselves and each other for support, but rarely trust God to help them through their problems. I would recommend this book to women who enjoy dramas and contemporary mysteries. – Tara Gnagy, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com

Publisher's Weekly

Crow (Glastonbury: The Novel of Christian England) kicks off a series of ecclesiastical thrillers with this story of a young American woman studying for the Anglican priesthood in Yorkshire, England. Felicity Howard finds her mentor, Father Dominic, bludgeoned to death and soon after flees with Father Antony, her church history lecturer, who is wanted for questioning in connection with the murder. Felicity and Antony pursue clues left them by Dominic that are related to seventh-century Saint Cuthbert, hoping that Dominic's quest will lead them to solve his murder. This plot promises, but fails to deliver. The narrative plods, the characterization is thin, the heavy-handed prose tells more than it shows ("A wave of desolation and despair washed over her"). A few features redeem: Anglophiles will appreciate Felicity's and Antony's travels and historical backdrop, and the puzzle related to Cuthbert is clever. But cozyphiles will be disappointed. (Sept.)Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Product Reviews

3.7 Stars Out Of 5
3.7 out of 5
2 out Of 5
(2 out of 5)
2 out Of 5
(2 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
2 out Of 5
(2 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
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  1. Ocala Fl
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: female
    2 Stars Out Of 5
    What an irritating principle character!
    April 27, 2012
    Ocala Fl
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 2
    Value: 2
    Meets Expectations: 2
    I had high hopes for this book, but was so irritated with the stupidity of the young woman in the story. I figured out in the beginning that they were being manipulated by someone and when she started mooning over the character who seemed very questionable, I wanted to shake her. I figured early on that he was the killer and couldn't believe that she didn't see it too.
  2. Tampa, FL
    3 Stars Out Of 5
    Fans of Brit Lit
    October 20, 2010
    Tampa, FL
    I struggled to follow along as Felicity and Father Anthony work to uncover the bloody death of Father Dominic, while they are pursued by both police and a would-be murderer. However, it did not grab me, and I just could not read past the halfway mark. Father Anthony, a teacher who lectures in class, spends a good bit of time lecturing to Felicity. She becomes bored; so did I. Perhaps, you'll be interested.

    Fans of British Literature will enjoy the allusions to medieval history in this Christian fiction work of murder and mystery. Although the plot is contemporary, it contains a good bit of early English religious history. Included is the mysterious life and death of a man named Saint Cuthbert, who, after his death, did not decompose in a normal fashion. His body was moved about Northern England, and the protagonists follow the route. Intertwined, a treasure hunt adds further intrigue.

    Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Monarch Books for my copy.
  3. St. Paul, MN
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    September 23, 2010
    St. Paul, MN
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    In A Very Private Grave, the first book of The Monastery Murders, a young American, Felicity Howard, is studying to become a priest at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire. Her beloved Fr. Dominic is brutally bludgeoned to death. However, shortly before Fr. Dominic is murdered, he stops to see Felicity and gives her a gift, which she thinks is a book of his poems.Felicitys church history lecturer, Fr. Antony, is found with Fr. Dominics blood dripping from his hands.Later, Fr. Antony and Felicity are thrust into a search to find the treasure Fr. Dominic alludes to, eluding the police, and finding the murderer(s).I loved the way Donna mixed the narrative style of writing into her storyline, delineating the ancient history of the church through Fr. Antony, who is literally a walking history book. She intertwines murder, stalking, ancient historical puzzles, romance, and the search to find the murder(s) and clues, which keeps you as intrigued, frustrated and frazzled as her characters, wondering how the puzzle pieces fit together. In fact, it ended too abruptly, as I was expecting to read more about the main characters. She definitely has you wondering who had the motive and opportunity to bludgeon Fr. Dominic, and why!There are a few things I did not like, such as insinuating that St. Cuthbert was the Holy One who would not see corruption, as that pertains to Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, as well what constitutes a saint, which does not agree with what I see in Scripture. Some of the ancient history bogged me down, but it was necessary to work out the plot.That said, I wouldnt hesitate to read additional books she writes in The Monastery Murders series!Special thanks to Donna Fletcher Crow for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.
  4. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    September 22, 2010
    Christy Lockstein
    A Very Private Grave by Donna Fletcher Crow is the first book in the Monastery Murders. Felicity Howard is studying for her Anglican priesthood at a monastery in Yorkshire when her beloved friend Father Dominic is found brutally murdered in his room and another monk, Father Antony is standing over him covered in blood. When the authorities naturally suspect Antony, his superior orders him to flee with Felicity to discover what treasure that Dominic had discovered on his recent pilgrimage had caused his murder. The two retrace his path and that of St Cuthbert's body across northern England in hopes of finding the murderer and maybe even a treasure, while Felicity tries to forget that her traveling partner just may be a murder. Readers looking for a fast-paced treasure hunt will be disappointed with this book; The DaVinci Code it ain't. But readers who love a good historical yarn mixed with modern day suspense will fall in love with Crow's quiet and cerebral writing. Much of the book is a fascinating retelling of the mysterious life of Saint Cuthbert, as well as the travels of his body, which were even more fascinating! Antony is a tortured character with a secret past that haunts him in his interactions with Felicity. She is a smart and beautiful heroine who doesn't always have the best instincts when it comes to men. This intelligent writer has the potential to write a terrific series.
  5. 4 Stars Out Of 5
    September 22, 2010
    An excellent mystery thriller with several different twists to the plot. I liked how Felicity was presented as a student who was actually more interested in the aspects of saving the world than in learning about God like so many people of today. I also liked that Father Antony was given to uncertainty, a very human failure often overlooked in the traits of priests. The book was full of ancient history about St. Cuthbert, the early history of the church and the myths developed over the years around the travels of his body. As a first book it certainly sets the stage for the series.
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Author/Artist Review

Author: Donna Fletcher Crow
Located in: Boise, Idaho
Submitted: September 23, 2011

    Tell us a little about yourself.  I am the author of 37 books, mostly novels about the history of British Christianity. My husband and I have 4 adult children and our 11th grandchild is on the way. I'm also an avid tea-drinker and rose-grower.

    What was your motivation behind this project?  My passionate desire to see spiritual renewal in England informs most of my writing. I love retelling the stories of men and women of faith from the past. St. Cuthbert's story is one I've wanted to tell for many years.

    What do you hope folks will gain from this project?  I hope that my reader, like Felicity, my heroine, will see the validity of historic Christianity and be inspired by the examples of lives lived striving for personal holiness.

    How were you personally impacted by working on this project?  It was a great encouragment to me to see how the life of St. Cuthbert, a quiet man of God, impacted the entire north of England with his holiness so that the results can still be found today.

    Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists?  My daughter's background was the inspiration for Felicity Howard. Like my heroine, my daughter studied classics at Oxford, disliked teaching in London and went off to a monastery in Yorkshire to study theology. Fortunately, however, my daughter is nothing like the rash, headstrong Felicity.

    Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know:  This story is as "true" as I could possibly make it— except the murders, of course. I have been to every place I describe and the history is as accurately told as careful research can achieve.

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