|The Rev Faith Morgan
(creator: Martha Ockley)
|The Rev Faith Morgan is "a young woman in her early 30s with glossy brown shoulder-length hair and a healthy outdoor tan". Before being ordained into the Church of England, she had worked as a police officer in Hendon for nearly four years, and had had a long-term relationship with another police officer, Ben Shorter. But then Faith's vocation had taken a different turn, and her relationship with Ben had been broken off as she became increasingly uneasy with his drive for convictions, seemingly at any cost. But, even now as one of the clergy, she still "likes investigating; talking to people, analysing their expressions, reading their body language, peering into their lives; fitting together the broken puzzle of what they said and didn't say, and why. She was good at it.”
Martha Ockley is the pen-name of Rebecca Jenkins. She read history at Oxford University, and spent several years working alongside her father, the Rt. Revd. David Jenkins (Bishop of Durham 1984-94) during the turbulence of the 1980s. She lives in Teesdale in the North East of England where the landscape and history provide the inspiration for her Regency detective, F R Jarrett. Since September 2009 she has been Royal Literary Fund Fellow and Writer in Residence at York St John University. She is a full-time author, writing both fiction and non-fiction. (She should not be confused with a Canadian actor and singer, also called Rebecca Jenkins.)
The Reluctant Detective (2010)
She is urged by the Bishop to stay on to look after the parish of Little Worthy. As she meets her parishioners she learns some surprising facts about her apparently well loved predecessor, and starts to suspect a motive for his death. And it is she who finally identifies the murderer.
The story gets off to a dramatic start with the previous vicar collapsing as soon as he drank the communion cup, and it holds the interest throughout. There is some romantic interest too. Inspector Ben Shorter starts by sneeringly telling his sergeant, "Ms Morgan is a vicar. One of the ordained," Ben emphasized the word. “She's a card-carrying professional at the touchy-feely stuff.” But he soon starts to feel differently about her again, although she is well aware that he "didn't understand the reality she experienced through her faith. He didn't even recognize its existence. That was the gulf beween them." Her own beliefs and doubts are convincingly described, for even she can't help wondering, "What if there is no truth to it?" But for her, as for Pascal before her, it was a gamble worth taking.
There are some unlikely coincidences (even Faith admits that "the coincidences were unsettling") and the denoument seems highly improbable, but the church background and Faith's own faith ring true, and it will be interesting to see more of Faith in action in future books.
She wonders how she will ever get through Christmas week. "There seemed to be fewer and fewer hours of blessed sleep in her bed at night as she struggled on from task to task: from writing service sheets to sermons, to rehearsal, to clearing up, to service, to meeting, to carol singing, to cleaning up and back again." The author well understands these aspects of a priest's life. What she has much less to say about in this book are Faith's own religious experiences. For one thing, she hardly ever seems to pray. And unfortunately the story itself is not as gripping as it might be.
|The cover is not very informative, but the story holds the interest.|