Friday, December 11, 2020

Book Review and Giveaway - Abide With Me: A Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery by Jane Willan

My Review

Abide With Me is a mystery set at a convent in Wales. An abbey of Anglican nuns adds ten new young nuns from Los Angeles just as a reporter is writing a story about the convent.  When the young reporter, Claire, is found dead mysteriously, Sister Agatha works to solve the crime.

I wanted to read this novel because the convent setting was appealing and unique.  The author is a minister, so I knew she would bring some extra substance to the story.

This is my first book in the Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn series. It read fine as a standalone but I look forward to going back and catching up with the previous books.

Sister Agatha is one of my favorite protagonists that I've encountered this year! She is smart and courageous and warm-hearted. She wants to be a mystery writer and starts a murder notebook to collect clues in this case. There were details in the story like:

"She turned her attention from the window to the wall above her desk and the two note cards she had taped up nearly a year ago: 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be given unto you.' Matthew 3:6. She closed her eyes and said a swift prayer. Then, opening her eyes, she read the other card. 'The secret of getting ahead is getting started.' Agatha Christie" (eBook location 839).

I especially loved Sister Agatha's special relationship with the elderly Shetland pony at the convent. She and the other sisters are taking good care of him, but his health is declining due to age and she isn't quite ready to let him go.

A younger nun, Sister Gwenydd, who is the convent's chef also assists Sister Agatha in solving the mystery. There were some fascinating details as this case unwound, including medieval miniature Bibles! I learned things I didn't know while reading this novel, and I always love that.

The mystery is well plotted and it kept me guessing. There was some unexpected suspense and danger!

I highly recommend Abide With Me for fans of traditional or cozy mysteries. I am already looking forward to reading more of this series! 

Book Synopsis

Change is afoot at Gwenafwy Abbey. Ten new nuns from a convent in Los Angeles join the community of Anglican sisters bringing energy, youthful enthusiasm, and more electronic equipment than Sister Agatha could have imagined. The arrival of the new nuns brings something else to the Abbey—a bit of unexpected notoriety. Claire MacDonagh, an ambitious young reporter for The Church Times, interviews the new sisters for a feature story. Murder is the last thing on anyone’s mind when Claire is found dead on the beach, her mobile phone in the sand. A tragic death, says Constable Barnes. A selfie gone bad. Meanwhile, Sister Agatha is unconvinced and puts on her detective’s hat, only to find herself in the midst of a tangled murder mystery. Her suspect list includes everyone from the new sisters to Reverend Mother to the beloved archbishop of Wales. Time is running out as Sister Agatha uncovers a shocking reality. Will she reveal the truth hidden in an ancient document before it is too late?

Author Bio

Jane Willan wants to live in a world where everyone has time to read their favorite books, drink good coffee, and walk their dog on the beach, but until that can happen she enjoys life as a pastor and writer. When she’s not working on a sermon, or hiking with her husband, Don, you can find her rereading Jane Eyre, binge-watching Downton Abbey, and trying out new ways to avoid exercise.

Author Links

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Lisacobblestone said...

Wow, does this story sound great! And I am in the middle of researching my Welsh ancestry, so the setting has a very special appeal to me!

susan/Harry said...

this book sounds great