The Hour of Death by Jane Willan The Hour of Death by Jane Willan
Narrator: Helen Lloyd
Series: Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery #2
Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc. on October 9, 2018
Source: Audible Plus
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Length: 8 hrs 37 mins
Pages: 314
Format: Audiobook
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three-stars

As Yuletide settles upon Gwenafwy Abbey, the rural Welsh convent’s peace is shattered when Tiffany Reese, president of the Village Art Society, is found dead on the floor of the parish hall. Sister Agatha, whose interests lie more with reading and writing mystery stories than with making the abbey’s world-renowned organic gouda, is not shy about inserting herself into the case. With the not-entirely-eager assistance of Father Selwyn, she begins her investigation.

Not long after the murder, a sequence of unsettling events befalls artist-in-residence Lucy Pennoyer. Her dog is kidnapped; she receives a threatening letter; and she is run off the road by a mysterious car. Will her next work of art be forever unfinished?

Sister Agatha has no shortage of suspects to check off her naughty-or-nice list, until finally, Tiffany’s half-brother, Kendrick Geddings, emerges as the prime suspect. There never was any love lost between Tiffany and Kendrick, and of late they had been locked in a vicious battle for control of the family estate. But if Sister Agatha thinks she has the case wrapped up, she’ll have to think again.

I picked up The Hour of Death because of its Christmas-time setting. It’s the second in the series, but the first I’ve read and it worked fine. I felt like I got to know the characters well. I got enough background but not too much.

I enjoyed Sister Agatha for the most part. She’s smart and tenacious, if a bit overly suspicious. Amateur sleuths pretty much have to be though. I could have done without her constant reference to other fictional detectives. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Gamache and Jessica Fletcher, but she referred to them way too often. She stands on her own well, she doesn’t constantly need to refer to other detectives. The nuns are an interesting group of women. While they do pray and sing and worship, they also make cheese and text each other and have an artist as a tenant. I think the Advent touches were some of my favorites: the hymns, the idea of Advent as a time of repentance and fasting, the last minute cheese orders. Father Selwyn, Agatha’s friend since childhood, helps with the investigations, but he is not quite as keen on the whole detecting thing as she is. The characters are probably the highlight of the book.

When a local woman, Tiffany Reese is found dead in the Parish hall, Sister Agatha is sure it’s murder, even if the local constable doesn’t initially think so. Tiffany was not a favorite among the townspeople, and for a small town there’s a pretty decent list of suspects. The mystery was well-written and plotted. There were plenty of twists and turns and red herrings. And the ending worked well for the story and the characters involved.

About Jane Willan

Reverend Jane Willan is the author of the Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery series. She is also the pastor of the First Congregational Church in Paxton, Massachusetts, where she preaches from a 300 year-old pulpit once occupied by Puritans, teaches bible study, attends lots of meetings, and never misses a potluck dinner. When not working at the church or creating new adventures for Sister Agatha, Jane relaxes at her favorite local bookstore enjoying coffee and a variety of carbohydrates with frosting. Otherwise, you might catch her binge-watching Netflix or hiking through the New England woods with her husband and two rescue dogs, Magi and Moses.

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