Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? Matthew 18:21
Faith Morgan is feeling settled and contented in her role as the vicar of Little Worthy. St James’s is about to reach its 900th anniversary and to celebrate Faith has commissioned a new painting of the church from distinguished local artist Sal Hinkley.
However, Sal, recently returned from Australia, is not a universally popular choice: outspoken and opinionated, she has made her share of enemies.
Before the painting can be completed, Sal is found dead at her easel. Suddenly, several respectable members of the church community are under suspicion and Faith finds herself thrown into the path of her former flame, Detective Inspector Ben Shorter, who, though he has no time for God-botherers, still seems to have time for Faith . . .
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.
A Saintly Killing is the 3rd book in Martha Ockley’s Faith Morgan Mystery series. You can read my reviews of the previous 2 books by clicking on the following titles — The Reluctant Detective and The Advent of Murder. The series protagonist, Faith Morgan, is a vicar who serves the church of St. James in the small English village of Little Worthy. She left her former life as a policewoman to serve God, however, murders keep turning up and she is soon swept into the investigations.
The third book finds Faith preparing for the 900th anniversary celebration of the historic church. In the midst of the preparations a murder occurs that has Faith struggling with her role as comforter and spiritual leader and her inclinations to find out whodunit. Adding to her troubles are her former romantic interest, DI Shorter, and her family’s struggle with her mother who has been newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But Faith is a capable woman who can juggle all aspects of her life, including murder investigations.
A Saintly Killing is an interesting murder mystery with lots of likely suspects with myriad motives. The victim is widely disliked for her temperamental attitude and her disregard for others. And while the mystery is the catalyst for the story, it is Faith’s struggles that kept me engaged. She is a realistic and complex character that a reader can easily identify with. A central theme to this book is forgiveness and repentance. I found it interesting that Faith is sometimes reluctant to forgive, going as far as suggesting that forgiveness can be withheld if the other party isn’t sorry. Although not very Biblical, this is an idea that can lead to bitterness and unresolved grief — an insidious evil in Little Worthy.
A Saintly Killing is a very British novel in setting, style and language. It kept me guessing until almost the end, which I really like. I want to be challenged by a mystery. The author leaves a few loose ends, so I am hoping there are more Faith Morgan stories in the future.
(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a review copy. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)