Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review: A Very Private Grave

A Very Private Grave (The Monastery Murders - Book 1) by Donna Fletcher Crow

Publication Date: August 2010
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Imprint: Monarch Books
Genre: Mystery/Crime
ISBN-13: 9781854249685
ISBN: 1854249681

(Received for review from Kregel Publications)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, Indiebound

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Excerpt (Courtesy of the Stiletto Gang Blog): Click HERE!

Book Trailer:

Other books by the author: Click HERE!

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

Felicity Howard, a young American studying at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood...

A Very Private Grave is a contemporary novel with a thoroughly modern heroine who must learn some ancient truths in order to solve the mystery and save her own life, as she and Fr. Antony flee a murderer and follow clues that take them to out-of-the way sites across northern England and southern Scotland. The narrative deftly mixes detection, intellectual puzzles, spiritual aspiration, romance, and the solving of clues ancient and modern.


A Very Private Grave is the beginning of a new series called The Monastery Murders by prolific writer, Donna Fletcher Crow. The author has created a tapestry of the past and present, weaving a suspenseful tale filled with murder and mayhem that many readers will find irresistible. With a touch of romance and chunks of Church history mixed in, Crow takes us across northern England and southern Scotland in search of murderer and a treasure.

When American student Felicity Howard came to England to go to school she planned for a life of solitude and quiet as a priest. When she is unexpectedly called on to solve a murder she finds that adventure and intrigue may be what she was craving all along.

When her beloved friend and teacher Fr. Dominic is brutally murdered and another teacher Fr. Antony is accused of the crime, Felicity finds that she may have the only clues to solving the murder. Felicity was given a book by the Fr. himself shortly before his death, detailing his latest pilgrimage and what he discovered. It could be a motive for murder. With Fr. Antony on the run from the police and the book of clues in tow, Felicity starts out across England to find the murderer and clear Antony's name.

The author, Donna Fletcher Crow does an amazing job creating the suspense and thrills needed to pull of a novel of this kind. The reader is immediately drawn in by the compelling characters of the book. Felicity, our main character, is a young woman who has a lot of determination and grit. She jumps head first into solving a murder without a second thought to her studies or for her own safety. Readers will enjoy finding out more about the heroine as Crow leads them deftly along, giving out tidbits of information like cookie crumbs.

Fr. Antony is a man with a tortured past which makes him almost a brooding hero. There is always that hint that Felicity can't seem to put behind her, that maybe, there is a lot more to Antony than anyone knows. Could she really be traveling with a murderer? This question will linger in the mind of the reader as Felicity and Antony follow Fr. Dominic's footsteps as he traveled the path of the body of "St. Cuthbert".

Some readers will love all the historical details of the early church that Antony is forever spouting, but other readers may be a bit bogged down by it. If the reader goes into the book expecting to find a cut and dried mystery they will be surprised at all the historical detail in this one. The research done by Donna Fletcher Crow to craft this novel is very obvious, it lends a real authenticity to the book and makes the story very believable. Being a former history major I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the book and felt that it really enhanced the writing.

Some to the themes in the book that I felt would really resonate with the reader included; faith and understanding why you believe what you believe, honesty in spite of the consequences it might bring to your life, and the need for having some type of dream or purpose in your life that makes you come alive and gives your life direction and meaning. The author was able to allow the concepts to filter into the story and give it a very engaging quality that is lacking in many books.

The mystery and suspense in this novel really make it a page turner. The rhythm of the book is very purposeful and it seems that every clue they uncover leads them a little further along their journey to find the killer. I found the puzzles that Felicity and Antony were given very complex and stimulating.

I would recommend this one to not only mystery and suspense lovers, but to readers of historical fiction as well. This is a very well thought out book, that will appeal to wide range of reading tastes. I look forward to reading the next installment in the series and believe we will see great things to come from it.

A Very Private Grave is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Donna Fletcher Crow is an author of over 35 novels including the epic Glastonbury, A Novel of Christian England which was awarded First Place in Historical Fiction by the National Federation of Press Women. Crow lives and writes from Boise, Idaho and is a member of The Arts Centre Group and Sisters in Crime.


Mystica said...

I love the background to this story - monasteries, priests and all.

Donna Fletcher Crow said...

Dear Debbie, thank you so much for the absolutely wonderful review! I do so love it when readers really "get" what I'm trying to do. So few reviewers discuss themes, but as a former English lit teacher theme is of great importance to me.

Book 2 in the series A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH will be out next year, but I don't have a specific date for it yet.