“Composing Sermons & Dreaming Up Murder”

A fellow New England author I am fortunate to know is Reverend Jane Willan, whose latest cozy mystery was published a few weeks ago. More details on Abide With Me in a minute, but first you may have questions:

What is a cozy mystery?

Cozy mysteries, also called “cozies” are a form of crime fiction that differ from hardboiled crime stories in a number of ways:

  • The detective is an amateur sleuth
  • The setting is a small town with quirky characters
  • Any sex or violence, including the main murder, is not explicit–in fact, it’s not described in any detail in the story. Action abounds, but graphic descriptions of murder and mayhem? Not so much.
  • Cozies may or may not have romance.

She’s a Reverend?

Yes! Reverend Jane Willan is pastor of the First Congregational Church in Paxton, Massachusetts, where she preaches from a 300 year-old pulpit once occupied by Puritans.

I couldn’t possibly write a better bio for Jane than what she already wrote for her website–she is an author after all! So here’s a bit more, in Jane’s words:

“Writing clerical mysteries comes naturally to Jane since she is the pastor of a white steepled church in a small New England town and divides her time between composing sermons and dreaming up murder—seldom letting the two overlap. She does her best writing in a converted walk-in closet at the church parsonage with just enough room for one desk, two dogs, and a Royal Manual typewriter. Jane likes to transport her readers to the rural countryside of North Wales where lush fields are dotted with sheep, church bells chime the hour, and the tea is always ready to pour.”

So what’s Abide With Me about?

Abide With Me is the third book in the heartwarming yet murderous Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn mystery series.

(I love that description — “heartwarming yet murderous” — which I took from Jane’s website. That may, in a nutshell, sum up cozy mysteries better than any other description!)

It’s available on IndieBound and on Amazon, where it is rated 5 stars. Here’s what one reader says about Abide With Me:

“Perfect whodunit. Likeable characters and great plots twists…another must read!”

— Debra H. Goldstein, Author of the Sarah Blair mysteries

But what’s the plot, you ask? This:

The season of Epiphany is in full swing at Gwenafwy Abbey when ten new nuns from a convent in Los Angeles join the community of Anglican sisters in Wales. They bring 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 Pennoyer, 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. Clues abound including the mysterious discovery of a missing key baked into the king’s cake for the feast of Epiphany. Sister Agatha’s tangled list of suspects includes even the abbey’s residents – and the beloved archbishop of Wales. Worst of all are her worries about the abbey’s beloved Shetland pony, Bartimaeus, who may be reaching the end of a noble life. 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?

Isn’t it time you cozied up with a heartwarming, humorous mystery set in Wales and featuring nuns and a Shetland pony? Enjoy.

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