Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Shadow of Death: A Sister Agatha & Father Selwyn Mystery

Good Day!  A Howl of Wolves by Judith Flanders comes out on May 15 and The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable comes out on May 29.  

The Shadow of Death by Jane Willan is the first installment in A Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery series.  Sister Agatha is an Order of the Sacred Heart nun at Gwenafwy Abbey in Pryderi, North Wales where the sisters make their own gouda cheese known as Heavenly Gouda. Sister Agatha is the librarian for the abbey and, in her spare time, is working on writing a mystery novel.  She enters the cheese barn to find Jacob Traherne, the sexton for St. Anselm’s Church, on the floor under a heavy steel shelving unit that had held their gouda.  Constable Barnes rules the death an accident, but Sister Agatha has her doubts.  This is an opportunity for Sister Agatha to utilize what she has learned from reading mystery novels, her writing classes and her favorite podcast on How to Write a Mystery Novel.  With help from her fellow nuns and Father Selwyn (her designated sidekick), Sister Agatha sets out to find Jacob’s killer.  But she cannot devote all her time to the case.  The abbey is in trouble and they only have a short time to save their home.  Plus, there is something fishy about their new postulant, Sister Callwen has been acting secretive lately, and their cheese is getting a bad rap.  Join in on the adventure with Sister Agatha in The Shadow of Death.

I loved the description of The Shadow of Death and was eager to read it.  The Shadow of Death starts out by sharing too much information.  We are introduced to the abbey, the nuns, their gouda, the town, and so much more.  It was an overload of details in the first sixteen percent of the book.  I did enjoy the authors descriptions of the buildings and North Wales (makes me want to catch a flight to Wales). Ms. Willan is a descriptive writer who can get overly detailed at times (needs to find a balance).  There are several storylines going on in The Shadow of Death.  Unfortunately, they all do not tie together into a cohesive book.  The author jumps around from one item to another.  It makes for a choppy story.  Sister Agatha reminds me of Mrs. Fletcher.  I like that she is a librarian who loves mysteries and wants to write her own mystery novels. Sister Agatha has read hundreds of mystery novels and the names of numerous fictional sleuths are scattered throughout the book (they are her inspiration along with a pod cast).  It was interesting to find out about the inner workings of a modern-day convent. These nuns have cell phones, computers, fancy sneakers, indulge in wine, and get to explore their dreams after age sixty.  I was curious how they paid for all of these items when they were having trouble paying their bills. I thought the murder mystery was straightforward, and I could quickly identify the killer.  I was more curious about Sister Callwen (she was being secretive).  The pacing of The Shadow of Death was slow, the case details kept being repeated, and the book was too long (I did not think it would ever end).   I wish the author had not put so much into this first book.  The Shadow of Death was not the right fit for me.  I do suggest that you obtain a sample to see if The Shadow of Death is the right cozy mystery for you.  Everyone has different reading tastes.  The next book in A Sister Agatha & Father Selwyn Mystery series is The Hour of Death which will come out on October 9.  The cover for The Hour of Death is just beautiful.

If you find my book reviews helpful, please follow my blog (upper right).  Thank you for visiting today.  Tomorrow I will be sharing my review of Read Herring Hunt by V.M. Burns.  I hope you have a red-letter day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader  

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