Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Rector by Michael Hicks Thompson

Product Details

Martha McRae is a widow living in a small Mississippi Delta town in the 1950's.  She's obsessed with the sudden death of her Episcopal church's young rector.  A murderer could go free if she doesn't investigate.  But Martha is torn.  If she pursues the suspect, her Bible study friend's awful secret could be revealed.  It would be devastating, and life-changing.  When the new rector arrives, she encounters a new puzzle to solve-one that takes her into Parchman Penitentiary where she comes face to face with evil.  (taken from the back of the book)

Martha is an incredible heroin and I adore her!  She's bright and sassy!  She tries to hold strong to her morals and at the same time, she has compassion for others instead of judging them.  She tries her best to protect everyone in her town, regardless of what the outcome might be.  Some would say that her insatiable curiosity is a bad thing, but it wouldn't stop Martha from searching for answers!  She's indomitable, unstoppable and darn sweet!

The last time that I fell in love with a town so deeply, it was when Jan Karon created Mitford.  These characters will completely capture your heart.  These are real characters with real struggles.  Most of them just want to be the best they can be and help each other.  Of course, we do have a few characters that just don't fit in.  They have their own agenda.  Every character is beautifully flawed.  This book captures human essence better than any cozy mystery I've read.

The mystery part is a little tricky.  The thing is, we have information that our sleuths do not.  Instead of wishing that Martha and her cronies would catch up to where I was, though, I found myself too immersed in the story to really care how far along they were in solving it.  Normally, a mystery of any kind for me is about the solving of the mystery, but here it was so much about just losing myself in the town and enjoying my stay.

There were a few real twists and turns here.  Twice (twice!!) I was so astounded that I began flipping back through pages looking for any suggestion that the shocking twist was about to happen.  Nothing!  You're riding along and picking up honey and hanging out with your friends over coffee cake, and BOOM!  What?  Where did that come from?  Now, it's not the type of shock that pulls you out of the story.  It's the type of shock you get in real life.  You're happily walking through an amusement park and your favorite singer walks by and says 'hi!'.  Well, of course it throws you off, but you're still walking the same path you were and headed in the same direction.  Not all of the twists are good in that manner, but you get the idea.  I almost used an analogy of a blown tire, but that really does derail you.  I was only  momentarily stopped from reading because I wanted to go back and look for clues :)  That's how I roll :)

Don't let the fact that this is a Christian murder mystery keep you from picking this book up.  Though there are some valuable Biblical references and a few fascinating thoughts, there is no point in this book where it gets preachy.  Thompson doesn't use his writing talent to force you to see things his way.  Instead, the characters talk about their beloved God and you can either take what they're saying and think about it, or discard it.  For those of you who are Christians, you might find some interesting insight.  It's definitely more 'leading' than it is 'forcing' though.

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