Set in the crisp, cold days leading up to an English Christmas, and following the adventures of a perceptive police-woman turned vicar and her quirky parish full of people, The Advent of Murder was a perfect read for a November afternoon.
But don't let that fool you into thinking this is a "light" book. Nope.
Faith Morgan digs into spiritual matters and asks big questions. She herself is a deep and engaging character. Faith is a combination of street knowledge and spiritual wisdom. She understands the worst of human behavior from her years in police work, yet she also knows her own fallen nature and she believes in redemption for all who truly seek it.
Those two facets of her character: clear-eyed viewing of the sad and broken world, and at the same time a heart that seeks understanding of God and His love, make her fascinating.
Her personal life has a relationship conflict born out of her character. The man she 'loved and lost' is a tough cop just like herself, but he has never tempered the necessary toughness with hope grounded in God's transforming power. When he sees a bad situation he doesn't look for anything better on the horizon. He doesn't want to understand Faith's new life-role as a minister to souls, yet I had the feeling by the end of this story that he understood more than he wanted to outright admit!
Faith's detection skills flow out of her sharp mind and keen eye, and merge with her sensitivity to people and her questions of their motivations. Somehow she manages to see them as more than perpetrators and victims... she sees them as people who may need her help to get back on their feet and who need to hear the news of the Gospel.
And we get to meet some of those people in this story. Each one is unique and well described... some made me laugh, some made me shake my head. None of them were cardboard.
For one, the past was never dealt with, and evil flowed out of a tormented heart.
And for another one, the past may lead to restoration.
That is the mystery.
Thank you Kregel for my review copy of The Advent of Murder!
And I want a Book Three!
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.)