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Christian Fiction: Historical Mystery / Suspense


Rules Of Murder

- A Drew Farthering Mystery

by Julianna Deering


 

As someone that quite enjoys cosy mysteries—you know the Miss Marple, Albert Campion, Agatha Raisin type (so ok the last one is set in a slightly different era but you get the idea!)—I can honestly say I really did enjoy this book. It appears to be the first in what is going to be a series, and I'll look forward to reading the rest and seeing how things progress forwards with some of the characters we met in this first book.

There is absolutely no harm in this book at all—well ok there is murder, the allusion of marital infidelity, and the like—but it's all done most circumspectly and with decorum, if that makes sense. What you have left is a gently amusing 1930's mystery with quite interesting characters, enjoyable dialogue, a smidge of romance, and a touch of coming to faith in it.

On the front cover it has a recommendation that says it will appeal to 'the most ardent Agatha Christie fan' but to be honest it actually reminded me much more of Margery Allingham in style and tone, especially with the interaction between Drew and Nick, and yes even the setting of Farthering Hall—much more Campion, although Nick isn't quite a ringer for Lugg.

It was a really enjoyable way to spend an evenings reading and though at times perhaps a little cliche—but then to some degree most of this genre is and perhaps that's part of its charm—it was a good read I'm happy to recommend to other fans of such cosy mysteries.

 



Review by Melanie Carroll  (29/03/14)
Jacket
Publisher: Bethany House imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: September 2013
ISBN: 978-0-764-21095-2
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Tainted Coin

- The Fifth Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton

by Mel Starr


Mel Starr continues to give hours of pleasure with this series. Having read the previous four books, I just had to buy this one and enjoyed every moment. I can be sure of the historical accuracy and as usual the glossary explains the unfamiliar words. An excellent plot with a solved murder; but unfinished business means buying An Uncertain Sleep – The Sixth Chronicle too when it is published!

Visit the author's website:http//:www.melstarr.net/

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (17/11/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: 21 September 2012
ISBN: 978-0-857-21250-4
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Remember Me

- Book Six The Hawk and The Dove

by Penelope Wilcock


This, Penelope Wilcock's sixth volume in the Hawk and the Dove,/I> series of novels, is as enthralling as the other five. The drama is played out against the backdrop of monastery life in medieval times. The central character, Father William, has fallen in love with his Abbot's sister, an impossible situation for a monk who has taken a lifelong vow of celibacy. The author skilfully and beautifully takes us deep into his conflicting emotions, his agonising struggles and desperate longings.
But it is not a gloomy novel - far from it. As the story unfolds we see God's power at work in and through a forgiving, caring community. Embedded in the story are Abbot John's homilies on the Eucharist which opened a deep well of joy in me. The whole book engenders hope in our merciful God, who takes his broken followers and makes them whole.

Review by Jackie Rowe  (16/10/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Crossway Books from IVP
Published: August 2012
ISBN: 978-1-433-52663-3
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Two Crosses

- Book One, Secrets of the Cross Trilogy

by Elizabeth Musser


‘When Gabriella Madison arrives in France in 1961 to continue her university studies, she doesn't anticipate being drawn into the secretive world behind the Algerian war for independence from France.’ Publisher

Gabriella is the daughter of American missionaries in Senegal, so arriving in France is quite a culture shock, but eased by staying and studying at St Joseph’s where the nun in charge of the Franco-American exchange programme in Castlenau, Mother Griolet, is a long time friend of Gabriella’s mother. Very soon Gabriella meets those who are going to be teaching her, among them the very attractive but aloof David Hoffmann.
That sets the scene, but very quickly we realise there is going to be horror, terror, hate and cruelty in this story, and I found it difficult to read at this stage, but as it continued I found it a real page turner. We are drawn into scenes in Algeria towards the end of the war of independence, but not the end of interfaction resentment and the urge for retribution. Children are at risk and it is saving as many as possible that occupies the good people in the story. Here we find strong faith, love and loyalty all surrounding the other main character the little Ophélie. A gripping story – and more to come.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (20/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: David C Cook / Kingsway
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-0-781-40500-3
Paperback
Price: £9.99

The Hardest Thing To Do

- The Hawk and the Dove Book Four

by Penelope Wilcox


Abbot ‘Peregrine’ is dead and Br John, the infirmarian who succeeded Br Edward, is returning to the Abbey to take over as Abbot. He has been away at Cambridge studying in preparation for his new job and becoming a priest as is fitting for the position he has been voted into by his fellow monks.
We met Br John in The Hawk and the Dove Trilogy and his slow journey back north shows us again what type of man he is. Once instituted as Abbot he faces with trepidation and humility all the extra duties of Easter, the special ceremonies of the season and the extra guests who come to celebrate with the monks.
He calls upon familiar figures to help him, monks we have met in the previous books, but a new character comes to the abbey and disturbs all their peace. He is the prior of St Dunstan’s, the Augustinian house near Chesterfield, recently burnt to the ground by those around who had suffered cruelly at the hands of this man. (We met him in The Wounds of God and had a taste of how spiteful and hateful he could be) What are the monks to do?
Following the pattern of the previous books, each chapter tells a tale of individual monks, but the theme throughout is what is to become of their unwelcome guest. Another absorbing read with a strong message of Christian forgiveness sometimes so very difficult to do.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (07/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Crossway Books from IVP
Published: 2011
ISBN: 978-1-433-52655-8
Paperback
Price: £7.99

The Hawk and the Dove Trilogy

- Special 20th Anniversary Edition

by Penelope Wilcox


Originally published in separate books, The Hawk and the Dove in 1990, The Wounds of God in 1991,and The Long Fall in 1992

Definitely historical, not so sure of the mystery and suspense of the category, but it is the best place for it that we have.
The three books together, a very satisfying 551 pages, tell the story of the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of St Alcuin on the edge of the Yorkshire moors, , back in the early fourteenth century.
In the first two books, the modern day descendant of the Melissa who appears in the stories tells these stories to her daughter Melissa. Stories that have been handed down through the female line for many generations but remain as fresh and absorbing as ever. In the third book the storytelling is as Uncle Edward told them to his niece, the first Melissa. He was infirmarian at the Abbey till he got too old to work and instead was cared for with the other old monks. It is his stories in all three books that tell of the daily lives of the different monks: of Uncle Edwards nephew the Abbot, Peregrine, correct religious name Columba, the dove, but his baptismal name suits him best and he is known by that to the monks of his Abbey. His story is particularly harrowing and the result of what happened to him colours all the rest of these three books. The monks are all individuals with their own trials and tribulations and we come to know many of them well and watch as they mature in their religious lives. It is not all sweetness and prayerful devotion. These are men with strong emotions and failings like the rest of us and their individual stories, a chapter at a time, are a glimpse of what it must have been like to take vows of Holy poverty and chastity back then.
This book and the sequels will remain on my shelf to be read and re-read in the years to come.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (07/09/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Crossway Books from IVP
Published: 2012
ISBN: 978-1-433-52847-7
Paperback
Price: £12.99

Chasing Mona Lisa



by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey


Set in Paris in 1944 during the liberation this book has it all. Romance, action and suspense!
Reichsmarschall Hermann Goring wants the Mona Lisa and is ruthless in getting what he wants. Swiss agents Gabi & Eric plan on rescuing the Mona Lisa before it falls into German hands. French Resistance Leader Rousseau has his own agenda....
It took the first three quarters of the book to introduce the characters and set the scene. The actual chase only really starts toward the end of the book where it has a couple of unexpected twists. Overall it was an enjoyable read but it’s not a book that I’ll be jumping up and down about.

Review by Charmaine Hill  (30/08/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Revell imprint of Baker Pub from Lion
Published: 17 February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-800-72046-9
Paperback
Price: £8.99

The Hour Before Dawn

- The Hawk and the Dove series Book Five

by Penelope Wilcock


Once started, I could not put this book down! From the short, urgent, opening sentences until the final chapter with its humour, pathos and the dawn of hope, I was held in its grip. It is the fifth in the 'Hawk and Dove' series of novels, set in the fourteenth century world of the monks of St Alcuin's Abbey. The story begins with a dreadful tragedy in the abbot's family, and as the tale unfolds, Penelope skilfully draws us into the raw emotions of her characters. It is a book about pain and suffering but it is also about grace and redemption and the way God can bring healing to the deepest pain. Often I stopped to re-read some of the beautifully crafted sentences - especially the section on the meaning of the Ascension, one of the many jewels in this book. I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

Review by Jackie Rowe  (26/06/12)
Jacket
Publisher: Crossway Books from IVP
Published: 12 December 2012
ISBN: 978-1-433-52659-6
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Unhallowed Ground

- The Fourth Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon

by Mel Starr


Mel Starr sets his tales about Hugh de Singleton in the English countryside of the 14th century.
In Unhallowed Ground the Bailiff of Lord Gilbert Talbot tries to discover who murdered Thomas, the most disliked man in the village, and who tried to make his death look like suicide. This is no easy task as Thomas had so many enemies. In the process Hugh is attacked and has his arm nearly cut off with a knife, his pregnant wife is in fear of her life and their home is set on fire and burnt to the ground.
This gripping thriller has much to commend it as it recounts the life of the peasant people in the middle ages where they had to contend with bondage, rules, regulations, myth and superstition.

Review by Guy Marshall  (19/11/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-857-21058-6
Paperback
Price: £8.99

Beyond This Wilderness



by John Thomas


A weird and wonderful tale of evil happenings back in the eighteenth century, still having repercussions in the late twentieth century. Beyond This Wilderness is set in the context of an exchange of letters between a parish Priest and his Archdeacon. The Vicar is from a parish on the welsh border in Shropshire, an outlying part of the Lichfield Diocese and following unexplained and odd strangers in the parish, and with the remembering of old scary tales in his mind, the Vicar feels it necessary to report what has happened to his Archdeacon, without seriously considering that anything is amiss.
With the finding of the ‘Testament’ of the Vicar of those past times, everything changes. This testament is included in full and is scary reading, yet contains some contrasting and beautiful, memorable passages. This Vicar had recorded his life in many journals, and years later he feels the need to write of what he has seen and experienced, then has the papers hidden in a way that will only be exposed if the evil re-appears.
It has!
A challenging and compelling read.

Price quoted includes p&p from publisher

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (12/02/11)
Jacket
Publisher: Twin Books
Published: January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-953-43046-8
Paperback
Price: £10.55

A Trail of Ink

- The Third Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon

by Mel Starr


Another book of a series no other reviewer gets a chance to read!
Hugh’s friend Master John Wycliffe of Canterbury Hall, Oxford has had his lifetime collection of books stolen from his room. Twenty-two books in all, two borrowed from a friend, twenty lovingly collected and annotated over many years of study.
Hugh was in Oxford to further his cause with the stationer’s daughter Kate, on the excuse of ordering more ink to write up his records of completed cases. As bailiff to Bampton Castle he was expected to solve local crimes from poaching to murder, and so far he had been successful.
Back in Bampton Castle Lord Gilbert, at the request of his wife Lady Petronilla, speaks to Hugh of his love lorn state and using the loss of Master John’s books as a worthy cause, sends Hugh back to Oxford to solve the mystery of the theft, and to find himself a wife.
Though he has the help of a sturdy groom, Arthur, finding the books is no easy task, and wooing Kate meets with difficulties too. There are evil men afoot, murder and mistaken identity, monks and nobles, all are involved, and much happens before the end of the story.

Review by Mary Bartholomew  (03/11/10)
Jacket
Publisher: Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
Published: October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-854-24974-6
Paperback
Price: £8.99