I have always been interested in religious mysteries, or as they are usually labeled today, clerical mysteries. I read all of Charles Merrill Smith’s Reverend Randolph series from the local library, got Eric Sheperd’s Nunnery series from a Catholic Bookstore that had a wonderful selection of older books in a basement, read through most of Ellis Peter’s Brother Cadfael books, devoured the classic Father Brown stories from G. K. Chesterton and scores of others through the years. What draws me to them? I am not sure. I read mysteries set in schools because I teach. My brother is a pastor, but I started reading clerical mysteries before he entered the ministry or others in my family entered Christian parachurch ministries. I read mysteries because there is a sense of right and wrong. In mysteries good triumphs over evil. Maybe that idea is seen clearer in religious mysteries as you read about sin even among those who claim to be holy
I had just gotten Donna Fletcher Crow’s A Darkly Hidden Truth to review when she wrote a post, Clerical Mysteries: What and Why, on a blog I follow. Reading her post made me want to dig right into her book. A Darkly Hidden Truth is the second book in the The Monastery Murders series. I have not read the first in the series, A Very Private Grave.
Main character, Felicity Howard has decided that she wants to be nun and wants to visit different convents to find the right match for her. Father Antony, a church history expert is her good friend, or is it more than friendship? Felicity struggles with her feelings for Antony while Anthony seems more sure of his attraction to her. A historical icon is missing and they want to figure out who took it. A close friend is found dead and they wonder if there is a connection. To add to the mix, Felicity’s mother, who has not been much of a mother, shows up at the convent and that doesn’t make Felicity happy. Anthony and Felicity continue to search for the icon. Antony fills in details as they try to find the path of this icon. There are twists and turn that I didn’t see coming but that do make sense.
I did not read the first in the series, A Private Grave so I don’t know the background. I found it hard to get to know Felicity and there wasn’t an attachment for me at first. I kept wondering why she was on a course to become a nun as it did not seem to fit her personality. As I read more I came to like Felicity and thought that becoming a nun did not fit her but wanted Anthony and her to get together.
I teach some church history and found the sections where Anthony explained about history interesting but for some people it may be a little long. I have read numerous clerical mysteries but this series was a new one to me. A Darkly Hidden Truth stands alone but I do plan on going back and reading the first in the series, A Very Private Grave, as I have grown to really like Felicity and Antony and want to fill in some gaps.
Donna Fletcher Crow does her church history research and has written a new series that is well worth reading. If you want to know more about her and the other books she has written, check out her blog, Donna Fletcher Crow.