Wednesday, October 27, 2010
In A Very Private Grave, the first book of The Monastery Murders, a young American, Felicity Howard, is studying to become a priest at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire. Her beloved friend, Fr. Dominic, is brutally bludgeoned to death, plunging Felicity into devastation. However, shortly before Fr. Dominic is murdered, he stops in to see Felicity and gives her a gift, which she thinks is a book of his poems.
Felicity’s church history lecturer, Fr. Antony, is found with Fr. Dominic’s blood dripping from his hands, highly incriminating him. For the time being, the police let him go.
Later, while Fr. Antony and Felicity are going over the ‘gift book,’ which is actually Fr. Dominic’s itinerary of his last pilgrimage, they are interrupted and told to flee, as the police are looking to arrest him. They are thrust into a search to find the treasure Fr. Dominic alludes to, eluding the police, and trying to find the murderer(s).
I loved the way Donna mixed the narrative style of writing into her storyline, delineating the ancient history of the church through Fr. Antony, who is literally a ‘walking history book.’ She intertwines murder, stalking, ancient historical puzzles, romance, and the search to find the murderer(s) and clues, which keeps you as intrigued, frustrated and frazzled as her characters, wondering how the puzzle pieces fit together. The number of possible suspects keeps growing as the pages fly by! She definitely has you wondering who had the motive and opportunity to bludgeon Fr. Dominic, and why. It ended too abruptly for me, as I was expecting to read more about the main characters.
There are a couple things I did not like, such as insinuating that St. Cuthbert was the ‘Holy One who would not see corruption,’ as that pertains to Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, and some of the ancient history bogged me down, but it was necessary to work out the plot.
That said, I wouldn’t hesitate to read any additional books she writes in The Monastery Murders series!
Contributor Linda Wagner