Former cop Faith Morgan may have quit the world of crime, but crime has not let her go. Now a priest in the Church of England, she is assigned to the improbably named village of Little Worthy, and within an hour of her arrival she witnesses the sudden, shocking death of a fellow priest. To her distress, the detective assigned to the case is Ben, her former partner and former boyfriend.
As she meets her parishioners she learns some surprising details about her apparently well-loved predecessor, and starts to suspect a motive for his death. The cop may have donned a clerical collar, but the questions keep coming. How will she reconcile her present calling with her past instincts? Is she in danger herself? What should she do about Ben?
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.
The Reluctant Detective is the first book in the Faith Morgan Mystery series by Martha Ockley. I read and reviewed book 2, The Advent of Murder, last year, so I was eager to go back to the beginning of Faith’s journey as a member of the clergy following her career in the police. What I found was an interesting and puzzling mystery and an even more interesting and complex character in Faith. If you are looking for a cozy mystery that has more depth than the standard fluff often found in the genre, then check this novel out.
The Reluctant Detective opens with the murder of Alistair Ingram as he performs the communion rite. The shocking crime for the parish of St. James in the quiet village of Little Worthy propels Faith into the midst of the community and the investigation. Former boss and lover, Detective Ben Shorter grudgingly includes Faith in his quest for the murderer, but Faith is the reluctant one. Just how can she serve the people of her congregation while viewing everyone through a lens of distrust and suspicion?
I really liked the characters in The Reluctant Detective. They exhibit real life emotions, doubts and fears. Main character Faith is the most developed, but secondary characters are fleshed out as well. The mystery keeps the reader thinking and guessing, and though I figured out just whodunit, it was only a few pages before it was actually revealed. But I think the best part of this novel is the juxtaposition of earthly crime and punishment and the eternal mysteries of God’s love and grace. Faith struggles with justice and mercy in the face of sin. The novel is also very British and should appeal to fans of the classic English mystery novel. I found The Reluctant Detective a quick and satisfying read.
(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)
To purchase this book, click on the image below.