Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book: The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley

Not all is as it seems with the Faith Morgan series. First of all, Martha Ockley is a nom de plume for another, and second many people have read book 2 before seeing this, book 1. Ah, well.

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<----Look! It’s a book!

The Reluctant Detective meets the reluctant reviewer. I’m hesitant to offer my full opinion on Martha Ockley’s work. Why? Because it’s a work of fiction but is set within a religious context, and some of the religious assertions and practices are contrary to my own beliefs. I will, therefore, offer this disclaimer on theology and proceed to enjoy the fiction: NEVER GET YOUR THEOLOGY EXCLUSIVELY FROM WORKS OF FICTION. DEVELOP IT FROM THE BIBLE. (assuming you’re after Christian theology, that is.)

Moving on, let us consider the reluctant detective of the book. Her name is Faith Morgan, and she is a former police detective. She has left the law enforcement world and become the vicar of a parish in the Church of England.

Now, we’ve all seen this movie and read this book, right? She is going to get pulled back into investigations, and her sleepy little town is due for a crime wave of either internal making or invasive forces. (Side note: if you live in a small community, and the new minister or librarian is someone who used-to-be involved in crime, fighting or committing, move. Seriously.)

The shell of the plot, then, is going down an expected trail. You know Faith will encounter questionable deeds and miscreants. You know that her old life will come back, and she will wrestle with how that affects her  new one.

Ockley’s not plowing new ground here, so we need to look at whether she plows a familiar path well.

Are the characters believable? Well, I live in a small town, and I think I know half of them. I pastor in a small town, and I think I know about half of them. The reader isn’t given all the details, but for many of us we can flesh out the rest from our own experience.

Overall, the plot has a few unexpected twists—you’ll spot who it is, but then doubt your guess enough to read it all the way through. It’s not the most brain-challenging work you’ll read this year, but it’s worth a week of evening casual reading.

There are some questions I have seen about Christian-type content, since it’s a book about a parish vicar. It’s not staunchly Baptist, that’s for sure: there is alcohol consumption and profanity, but not much. If you compare the “moral content” of this book to the most recent episode of Family Feud on the television? This is “more moral.” It’s not the first introduction to these subjects that you want for a middle-schooler, but it’s just fine for your mystery-loving high school students, or for you as an adult.

Free book in exchange for the review.

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