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4 Stars Out Of 5
1st in Faith Morgan series is smart mystery
May 27, 2011
The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley is the first book in the Faith Morgan series about a newly ordained priest who left behind not just her career as a policewoman, but also her former lover Detective Inspector Ben Shorter. Faith has been called to the village of Little Worthy to check it out as a possible home parish. Instead she witnesses the current priest's shocking death from drinking poisoned communion wine. The bishop quickly asks Faith to fill in as Little Worthy's priest, and she can't seem to leave behind her old police instincts to investigate the crime while she gets to know her new community. Complicating affairs is the investigating officer: Ben Shorter, bringing up feelings they both thought deeply buried. Ockley neatly connects the jobs of detective and priest as both seekers of the truth, and Faith struggles with her new position and old habits. Faith is in an intriguing character who must juggle the delicate job of entering a new parish, dealing with the politics of religious bureaucracy, and a difficult relationship with her elder sister, Ruth, with whom she must room until finding a permanent parish home. The mystery is shocking, as is the tragedy that follows, but Ockley avoids sensationalizing them, keeping the focus on the characters rather than the gore. This is a quiet mystery, it builds slowly over the course of the story as Faith puts the pieces carefully together. Faith is a multi-layered character who is very empathetic. The Reluctant Detective is a cerebral mystery with plenty of twists and turns and deep character development. I hope that Faith Morgan will be back very soon.
This was a difficult book for me to read. Perhaps it is because the author resides in England and therefore uses terms that caused me to hesitate and translate. For instance, a "bonnet" is not an item worn on the head; rather, it is the trunk of a car. Although this authenticates the work, interruptions like this cause the plot to drag.
I found the characters flat, not at all fleshed out. I could not envision how Faith and Ben ever survived a long-term romance, as they are so dissimilar. I'm not familiar with the Church of England or its vicars, so it surprised me to read about Faith using profanity and drinking hard liquor.
Perhaps it's me. You may find it just the cup of tea for you. Read a chapter and decide for yourself.
Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Monarch Books for my copy.
Faith Morgan is a minister, in the Church of England. Before she became a minister however, she was a police detective, and somehow that seems to be trying to edge into her ministerial life. During a visit to a church where she might become the vicar, a tragic death occurs. As the vicar is partaking of communion, after he drinks the wine, he seems to experience a heart attack. Rushing forward to help with CPR, Faith quickly realizes from the smell of the wine, that this is no heart attack, that the vicar has been poisoned. His death turns this seemingly tragic event into a murder investigation. An investigation that Faith keeps finding herself pulled into.
I truly enjoyed this book, I do enjoy books set in the English villages, they are reminiscent of the great Agatha Christie books that I have always loved. Martha Ockley is an author that is new to me and I just was enthralled with her writing. The characters and the issues they each faced came alive to me, I could see the English village as if I were viewing it in person. A great book that will keep you reading to the end. I was able to figure out who poisoned the vicar, and it was a great twist to the story! I hope to read this author again soon, and easily give this book a 5 star rating! 224 pages, US $14.99 5 stars.
This book was provided for review purposes only by The Suspense Zone, no payment was received for this review.