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The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley

Book cover

The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley

Revd Faith Morgan was formerly a police detective and thus perhaps an ideal person to have on the scene when the vicar of the church she is visiting dies unexpectedly during the service; all the more so when it turns out he was poisoned via the communion wine. She is reluctant to walk in her old shoes but she wants the truth to be revealed, not just for the result or blind justice but for the sake of the innocent who she sees differently now that she is priest in charge rather than just another PC.

If it isn’t inappropriate to say so, I suggest this books sits at the more pleasant end of the crime genre. It has a contemporary setting but still manages to feel faintly quaint. Neither is the religion side of the story overplayed; at times, Faith Morgan seems as much a reluctant priest as a reluctant detective.

I think the cover of the edition I was sent to review is quite apt. I don’t think Ockley conjures up a world that seems tangibly real. It feels more like a stylised stage backup drop with some bits of perspective that don’t quite fit. Why, for example, does Faith seem to have no deep ties to her former parish while she does quickly begin to weave human connections in Little Worthy?

For writing that crosses over between crime and church, I prefer other sources such as Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series or (a more recent discovery) Simon Parkes’ Abbot Peter. However, if you like your cucumber sandwiches with the edges sliced off or the the cosiness of Simon Brett’s Fethering mysteries, then this could be your bag.

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