Readers will remember my penchant for the genre of book which is known as the ecclesiastical/clerical whodunnit. Medieval or modern, it matters not a hoot to me as long as there is some churchy stuff and a good mystery. Occasionally, just occasionally, the churchy bits seem a bit contrived and this was the case with Donna Fletcher Crow’s second Monastery Murder: A Darkly Hidden Truth. It has all the makings of being a great book: female ordinand training at the Community of the Transfiguration (aka Mirfield) thinking of becoming a nun; handsome priest who teaches history; a missing icon; some Knights Hospitaller; several retreat houses; a bit of Julian of Norwich and her crazy pal Margery Kempe; a visit to Walsingham – what’s not to like?
The book is set between the 3rd week in Lent and Easter morning. I was fortunate enough to be invited to stay at Mirfield one Holy Week, long, long ago and there were many echoes of that as the book drew to a close. I’ve been to Walsingham and Norwich so again there were lots of familiar places for me which always makes a difference in a book. The story of the stolen icons was credible in a sort of Dan Brown kind of way. And the blossoming relationship between Fr Antony and Felicity kept you going, although it was pretty obvious where it was going.
But… the churchy bits just seem to be a little contrived. There were chunks of Julian of Norwich’s writings as well as some excerpts from Margery Kempe. All this did was show to me that the author was keen on them and wanted to show off her knowledge. They just didn’t really fit into the story, interesting though they may be. Perhaps I’m being unfair.
Good holiday reading. 4 stars.