THE Revd Charles Jowett’s wife finds him dead in a deckchair in the garden, blood trickling from under his straw hat. The previous week, after the wind of the Spirit had prompted him to preach a barnstorming sermon on how confession was good for the soul, the minister had had four guilty, worried visitors, each of them with a story that, if told, would wreck their position in the village.
A few of us have felt at times that we could cheerfully murder someone. Very occasionally it might be the vicar. Charles’s much younger wife, Heather, and his curate, Rory, work out that he must have been killed, and that one of these four was responsible. This sweet, slightly dark little tale ends with their unmasking the murderer, and also examines how the threatened loss of status affects different personalities.
Rory and Heather marry, and on their honeymoon cruise in Norway, a chance encounter with a fellow passenger entangles them in a story with its roots in the Second World War and dangerous repercussions in the present. When their new friend is murdered, their own lives are threatened, and they find themselves unwillingly caught up in a high-level police operation. Malcolm Lorimer, a Methodist minister, maintains a cracking pace, and also manages to suggest, without vulgarity, the human warmth of the couple’s relationship.
To the book lover, self-publishing is a very welcome phenomenon, enabling good stories such as these to see the light of day. But this one needed a really good edit, as the punctuation and random use of speech marks put a slight barrier between the reader and the narrative. This is sad, because Lorimer understands people, and in Heather, elegantly dressed, lively, linguist, and self-defence expert, he has created a heroine that we would like to see more of. She could even bring her husband.
Fiona Hook is a writer and EFL teacher.
The Sermon That Led to Murder
Max Books £7.95*
*available from www.max-books.co.uk