Hope, Faith, and a Corpse: A Faith Chapel Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – California
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (January 12, 2021)
Hardcover: 298 pages
Kindle ASIN: B0871KRPKG
In the tradition of M. C. Beaton, Hope Taylor, pastor of a small-town California church, tries to find out who sent a church elder to Heaven.
Hope Taylor arrives in Apple Springs to start her new life as the first female pastor of Faith Chapel Episcopal Church. The northern California town’s quaint cottages, bungalows, and shops promise a fresh start for the 42-year-old widow and Bogie, her scruffy black Labrador. But where is Father Christopher? The kindly old rector who hired Pastor Hope was supposed to meet her upon her arrival, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Hope’s faith springs eternal, so she explores the little white church hoping to find Father Christopher. But when she enters the columbarium, she instead finds church elder Stanley King–his skull crushed by a fallen burial urn.
Hope had made Stanley’s acquaintance before and had struggled to take a charitable view of his character. Stanley was as wicked as he was wealthy, as petty as he was pious. His soul may have been holy, but his behavior was wholly rotten. The last time Hope had seen him, he had shouted drunkenly that she would preach at Faith Chapel over his dead body.
Many of the townsfolk witnessed the altercation, so Hope finds herself as the prime suspect in Stanley’s murder. With Bogie’s four-footed assistance, Hope is determined to find the real killer and clear her name…even if it will require a bit of divine intervention.
Oh my, Hope Taylor is a woman I would surely be friends with. We share our Wisconsin roots, we hear our mother’s voice in our heads – “a place for everything and everything in its place” all the time, our inner thoughts sometimes roll off our tongues and escape out our mouths, we both love old black and white movies and can quote lines perfectly if necessary. She even has a labrador named Bogie.
Hope in the new associate pastor at Faith Chapel Episcopal Church and her first day doesn’t get off to a good start. While trying to locate the lead pastor, Father Christopher, she finds church elder Stanley Kind instead. He just happens to be dead in the columbarium with a crushed skull and a bloody urn by his side. She had only met the man once and he was drunk and not very supportive. When two parishioners find her and the deceased that quickly jump to the conclusion that she killed the man. Being a murder suspect was not the fresh start she was hoping to have. Now she is going to have to prove herself to her new congregation and clear her name.
Laura Jensen Walker introduces some fantastic characters in this first Faith Chapel Mysteries. Not only do I love Hope but her sister-in-law Virginia too. She drops everything to come to Hope’s aid and she is a whole lot of fun. I also liked the technology-challenged Father Christopher. He reminded me of one of my former pastors. There are several other characters that remind me of people in my life. Bogie also stole my heart immediately. All the characters are believable and some are very quirky. They were all very fleshed out for the first book in the series.
The life of a small-town church is accurately portrayed. While not a pastor, I worked for our small town church for several years in different capacities and everything from the fundraisers to the services rang true, as did the dealing with the variety of members’ attitudes and feelings.
The victim was truly a despicable man so there was no shortage of suspects. The more I learned about him I was surprised he lived as long as he did. Another mystery involves a skeleton found buried in Hope’s backyard. Both mysteries are well-plotted and interesting. I really enjoyed doing some armchair sleuthing of my own as Hope was trying to uncover all the facts she could. Several twists and a little legwork brought the real culprit to light. The author’s descriptive writing style made everything clear in my mind’s eye each and every step of the way. The final twist was quite a surprise.
Hope, Faith, and a Corpse was a heavenly read. I loved the way humor was woven liberally throughout the entire story. I truly didn’t want to reach the end. I am very excited about this series. I can’t wait for book two! I have hope and faith that this series is going to be a must-read for cozy lovers everywhere. A Perfect Escape!!
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About the Author
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”