The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley

I adore all things British, except maybe kippers. The Reluctant Detective was originally printed in the UK and Monarch Books is publishing it here in the States. An amazing  achievement for an author.

There is quite a bit that is very, very good about this novel. Ockley has tackled, in modernized Agatha Christie fashion the essence of a good mystery. Although, Christie moved her stories along at an amazing pace whereas Ockley's is much slower. Not that it is bad for a mystery to unfold slower, I just think the characters could have been crafted in a tighter description so the story flow wouldn't bobble at times. Although, she did an excellent job with characterizations and wove the plot so the reader suspects everyone at one point or another.

The unusual heroine is Faith Morgan who is a vicar, but is a former police detective, quite a combination. Since this is the first of a series, there are some loose ends as far as one or two characters relationships which gives the series a delicious anticipation such as Jane Austin sprinkled into her stories. The ending is surprising, which is also satisfying. Although, I have to admit I did do a bit of skimming, and I might have missed a vital clue that you'll catch.

If one reads with a slightly British accent, the humor is also wonderful, but one should be able to appreciate the heigh-ho English dryness, which for me is hysterical.

I give this novel 4 out of 5 stars simply because the story is a bit slower paced than I usually like even keeping in mind that this is the first of a series therefore there was a foundation to set. It's a keeper, though, and worthy of an evening's read.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Reluctant Detective
Monarch Books (April 30, 2011)
Martha Ockley


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. Rev. 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 sees Faith Morgan arriving back in the region of her birth - Winchester in Hampshire. Recently ordained, she had been working as a curate in an Anglican inner-city church. Within an hour of her arrival at Little Worthy, she witnesses the sudden shocking death of a fellow priest during a communion service at St James's. He had been poisoned with a pesticide mixed with the communion wine. The senior police officer who arrives at the scene turns out to be Detective Inspector Ben Shorter, Faith's ex long-term boyfriend.

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 between 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.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Reluctant Detective, go HERE

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