Faith Morgan, former policewoman and vicar of the small English village of Little Worthy, goes to visit one of her parishioners at his farm, only to discover the house surrounded by police cars. A body has been found in the local river and farmer Markham is charged with murder.
Though busy with preparations for Christmas, Faith is called on to investigate when it’s found out that the victim is also a member of her congregation—Lucas Kemp, a member of the choir.
Faith’s informal inquiries lead her to uncover a hotbed of tensions and romantic rivalries in the choir, questions about drugs, and a run-in with an unsavory uncle—which leads to a dramatic rescue by Ben, Faith’s former detective partner and ex-boyfriend.
Martha Ockley is the pen-name of Rebecca Jenkins. She read history at Oxford University, and spent several years working alongside her father, the Rt. Revd. David Jenkins (Bishop of Durham 1984-94) during the turbulence of the 1980s. She lives in Teesdale in the North East of England where the landscape and history provide the inspiration for her Regency detective, F R Jarrett. Since September 2009 she has been Royal Literary Fund Fellow and Writer in Residence at York St John University. She is a full-time author, writing both fiction and non-fiction.
I have always loved British mysteries, especially those set in quaint villages with nosy characters on the look out for just whodunit! Martha Ockley’s second book in the Faith Morgan series fits the bill nicely. Reminiscent of a Jane Marple novel, The Advent of Murder adds a very modern element that brings this book a contemporary flavor to compliment the traditions of village life.
Faith Morgan is the first year vicar at St. James’s parish in Little Worthy. It is her first Christmas season, and the festivities leading up to the joyous day leave her frazzled and stressed. The Mary for the nativity pageant is less than reliable, they are missing a donkey and Joseph has been taken into custody on suspicion of murder. But Faith is in on the investigation. She is more than a nosy parker; she is a former policewoman!
There is a lot to like about The Advent of Murder. The mystery leads the reader into the puzzling search for the killer. Motives run from jealousy to drugs. The characters are very well-developed, and Ockley includes the traditional villagers, churchwardens and WI members along with urban youth, drug dealers, and alcoholics. I love the very contemporary feel against the backdrop of quaint village life. It makes the book seem very real. I also liked main character Faith Morgan very much. She is torn in so many ways — her new vocation and real heart for ministry, her past relationships and career, and the balance of work obligations and family commitments. This is a traditional mystery set amidst the struggle of contemporary life.
So if you like your mysteries British, give The Advent of Murder a try.
(Thanks to Kregel for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)
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