Wales, A Tourist Family & A Top-Notch Murder Myste
November 8, 2012
Fay Sampson in her new book, "The Hunted Hare" Book One in The Aidan Mysteries series published by Monarch Books brings us into the lives of Aidan and Jenny Davison and their seven-year-old daughter Melangell.
From the back cover: Pennant Melangell lies at the head of a mountain valley in North Wales. It consists of a church, with the medieval shrine and pilgrimage site of St Melangell, a few cottages - and a newly constructed hotel, The House of the Hare, built by its imposing director Thaddeus Brown.
To the House of the Hare come Aidan and Jenny Davison, with their seven-year-old daughter Melangell. Jenny has advanced cancer: will the sacred location become a place of healing? Or will the hotel's new facilities - for instance, its impressive archery range - become a place of death? In this secluded setting, who might be the next victim?
The first of a series of new mysteries featuring Aidan and Melangell and set in what Fay Sampson describes as the Ã¢â¬Ëthin' places of the Celtic world.
I am sorry to admit that up until this book I have never read anything by Fay Sampson before. I am happy to report that I will rectify that situation. I think Fay Sampson is an extremely talented writer who really knows how to tell a story that will grab you and keep you flipping pages until you find out who did it. I have not physically been to Wales but, after reading "The Hunted Hare" I feel I know the place and now want to go and visit for real. I had no idea of this St. Melangell nor any of the town's history but Ms. Sampson filled us in brilliantly without sounding like a tour guide. The murder mystery is top-notch and will keep you guessing and flipping pages as fast as you can read them. "The Hunted Hare" is a very exciting book that will keep you engrossed, not only in the mystery, but in the lives of these characters as well. This is a wonderful series and I am glad I discovered Fay Sampson and this delightful family. I recommend this book highly.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Monarch Books. 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."
I love mysteries from across the pond, and this is a good one.
At the head of a mountain valley in North Wales is Pennant Melangell. The remote hamlet is one of the "thin places" and has long been a pilgrimage site. The church is a shrine for the medieval Saint Melangell, and is visited by those desiring healing.
One of those desiring healing is Jenny Davison. Jenny and her husband Aiden had been to the place before and have now brought their seven-year-old daughter, Melangell. Jenny has advanced cancer and is seeking what God might have for her at this place.
New since their first time there is new hotel, The House of the Hare. The facility was designed with the needs of the sick in mind. It is to be a place where pilgrims in search of healing can stay.
But death, rather than healing ensues as the owner of the hotel is found murdered. He was killed with an arrow to the eye. Those known to have used the archery range are under suspicion, including Jenny.
Besides being a well written mystery, readers are introduced to some of the lore of North Wales. Many believe Pennant Melangell is a sacred place for Christians while others promote an ancient pagan goddess. Sampson notes that the shrine church at Pennant Melangell is real and worth a visit. She has added the fictional hotel and cottages. For someone who has never been to Wales, it was fun reading about the area.
This is the first in a series featuring Aidan Davison set in the "thin places" of the Celtic world.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Aidan, his wife Jenny, and daughter Melangell Davidson, are en route to the House of the Hare in Tennant Melangell. The Hare is a haven for those who have come in need and for those who search for a peaceful refuge. Housed within Melangell is St. Melangell, a church that holds secrets locked deep within it's depths. When foul play suddenly happens upon this quaint village and takes the life of one of it's own questions are raised. The answers must be found at a quickened pace but at what cost?
Building suspense, intrigue, and twists and turns are sure to entice and satisfy the reader. Excellent character development, realistic and interactive dialogue, along with a descriptive plot held my attention from the beginning and kept me reading while digging deeper into the storyline. I will be searching out previous novels by the author and anxiously await the next in the series! I was entertained and will recommend this mystery to others! I received a complimentary review copy from Monarch Books Kregel Publications for my review.
I don't "do" mysteries very well. I'm all to prone to jump to the end to see "whodunnit" before I've finished the third chapter! Awful, I know, especially to those of you who really enjoy that suspense about mystery novels.
However, I fended off temptation for the entire book of The Hunted Hare. I think it was because I enjoyed it so much that I was willing to suspend all my sneaking suspicions and let the story unfold. Besides, with every chapter, my thoughts of "whodunnit" changed. So Sampson kept me jumping around, vacillating on who was guilty, all the way to the end. Quite a cliff-hanger.
I also find it hard to review mystery novels such as this because I don't want to give anything away. So, you'll have to take LeVar Burton's advice (you remember Reading Rainbow, don't you?): "You don't have to take my word for it." Just get a hold of this book and read it.
When Aidan Davison takes his family to a Welsh historical site of healing, he has no idea what else will take place beyond the hopes that his wife, Jenny, may be healed of her cancer. Along with their precocious young daughter, Melangell, they find themselves caught up in goings-on and intrigue they never anticipated.
Sampson does a masterful job of painting scenes for your mind's eye to envision. You can find yourself in The House of the Hare, wandering around and savoring it's wonder and welcomed rest. The difficult journey of Aidan & daughter, Melangell, down a treacherous path near local waterfalls will have you reading as fast as you can, just to get them down to the bottom_if you can. Sampson's characters are well-played out also. If I had any negative critique, it would be the same one I hold for all books that take place in Wales--give us a pronunciation guide somewhere in your book. While The Hunted Hare was not filled with a multitude of Welsh names, places and words, there were enough that for the uninitiated, you end up pulling a tongue muscle just trying to decipher the true pronunciation. Otherwise, please, go buy this book, read it and find yourself drawn into the suspense.
I highly recommend this novel from Fay Sampson and Kregel.
Mixed in with the mystery and suspense were the very real ups and downs with living with a serious illness. Jenny doesn't know how much time she has left but she wants to make every moment count. Visiting Pennant Melangell serves to introduce their daughter to the place that inspired her name as well as a hope that the place of reported miracles might also yield healing for Jenny. What they didn't anticipate was being thrust into the middle of a murder investigation. As suspicions mount, the characters face even graver issues than Jenny's illness.
I enjoyed the various characters and how they were depicted. Readers will feel like they know Aiden and Jenny through their personal struggles. I'm hoping future books in the series will offer the reader greater glimpses into their daughter Melangell. There were some twists and turns in the plot and I have to say that I had no hint of who the killer was. The author did a marvelous job of bringing all the players to life: the locals as well as those visiting the House of the Hare. Beware...not all of your first impressions will prove true in the end!
The question of Jenny's future is not settled in the first book but readers are given a hint in the beginning chapter of the next book--cleverly included at the end of The Hunted Hare. Readers will want to continue the series to stay abreast of the new mysteries in Aiden's path.
One of the most striking things about this book had nothing to do with the story. It was printed on luxuriously thick and bright white paper--a rare find among the current market of books with pages that more closely resemble newsprint. And the cover design with a scored edge along the binding keeps the pages intact and avoids stress on the spine as you read. Excellent features that readers will notice and appreciate!
Wish there had been a map of the grounds and surrounding area where Aiden and Jenny stayed. Geography played a significant role in the story line (paths people travelled and their proximity to the crime scene). A map of the locations mentioned would have really enhanced the story.
US readers would also really appreciate a pronunciation guide. Either printed in future editions or posted on the author's blog.
[I received a free copy of The Hunted Hare from Kregel Publications for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.]