It’s really nice to have a series of books where you look forward to reading the next one.
Leigh Koslow’s Aunt Bess is on the board of ‘The New Millennium Church’. Leigh is summoned to hospital where her aunt is being treated for burns and an an ankle injury, having apparently saved the new pastor, Reginald Humphrey, from burning alive in his parsonage.
The truth is somewhat different since Aunt Bess has her suspicions about Humphrey and had sneaked in to the parsonage to look for evidence. Humphrey arrived back however and while Bess was in hiding, someone threw a Molotov cocktail through the window. Trying to escape she fell down the stairs and was carried out by the pastor.
Subsequently the pastor goes missing and Leigh finds herself dealing with yet another mystery while trying to keep secrets from practically everyone, as well as sorting out her complicated relationship with her neighbour.
Edie writes those novels that fit into the ‘cosy murder’ genre although labeling them thus would be doing her a disservice. She does pay close attention to plot, and I have so far always been surprised and blindsided by the subtlety of her clues and last minute revelations.
She almost stretches the boundaries of credibility here at one point but just about gets away with it.
Her strength is her characterisation, as she manages to deftly sketch even the minor characters into living breathing real people.
Got the next two lined up now.
OK. Somewhere in England the village of Sunbury is cut off following a devastating storm which floods the surrounding countryside.
A policewoman, Sarah Gladstone, is visiting her mother and finds herself – along with the rest of the villagers – cut off from escape, electricity and communication.
The local Catholic priest then goes missing and is subsequently found dead by a Yorkshire terrier and its alarmed owner.
Sarah then has to mount a single handed murder investigation, handicapped by uncooperative locals, and their fear of having had their confessions recorded for posterity in Father Michael’s secret journals.
It’s not a bad read but I had several problems with it.
The premise relies on the priest being Catholic since he has recorded details of his confessions in several journals.
I’m not convinced that a village like this would have a large enough Catholic population. It’s not clear to me where Sunbury is, but presumably somewhere in Middle England prone to floods.
Catholics in England, in my experience and I am happy to be proven wrong, tend to live in towns and cities. but, even given that there may well be villages with large Catholic populations, the characters that may have confessed are either not Catholic or don’t appear to be. The one person with an Irish name, Sean, has not it appears confessed himself but wants to see the confessions of someone else.
Then there’s the characters. There’s not a lot to make one care about any of them. There’s a kind of bleak realism that isn’t supported by any tension or real drama. The characters are defined only by their bad behaviour and one sees little of another side to them. Some occasional light relief would have been welcomed. They come over as cold and unlikeable. Even the heroine herself goes through the novel in a state of worried annoyance.
Thus, now and again, the reader’s switch gets flipped from exciting to depressing.
It’s well written and I stuck with it. Given some work on characterisation and perhaps a subplot I would have been more sold on it but as it stands it doesn’t encourage one to read more.