The Shadow of Death (Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery #1) by Jane Willan #bookreview #mystery

Title: The Shadow of Death

Author: Jane Willan

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: April 10, 2018

Page Count: 332

My rating: 2 stars

About the book: 

Perfect for fans of G. M. Malliet and M. C. Beaton, The Shadow of Death is divine entertainment from a talented debut writer.

A charming and clever traditional mystery debut set at a bucolic Welsh convent, The Shadow of Death introduces Sister Agatha, a mystery-loving nun who finds herself in the midst of a real-life murder case.

The sisters of Gwenafwy Abbey have cherished their contemplative life—days spent in prayer, reflection, tending the Convent’s vegetable gardens and making their award-winning organic cheese, Heavenly Gouda. Life seems perfect, except for Sister Agatha, a die-hard mystery fan who despairs of ever finding any real life inspiration for her own novel. That is, until the Abbey’s sexton is found dead under an avalanche of gouda. Despite the reservations of the local constable, Sister Agatha is convinced it’s murder and the game is afoot.

Armed only with the notes she’s scribbled during her favorite podcast, How to Write a Mystery Novel, as well as a lessons learned from crime heroes ranging from Hercule Poirot to Stephanie Plum, Sister Agatha leads the nuns of Gwenafwy Abbey (and her unwitting sidekick, Father Selwyn) as they begin a race against time to resolve the death of Jacob, save the Abbey, exonerate a beloved postulant, and restore the good name of their cheese.

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The Shadow of Death by Jane Willan is the first book in the new cozy Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery series. The story takes place at the Gwenafwy Abbey when unfortunately the Abbey’s sexton is found dead and the local law is called in.

Sister Agatha is a diehard mystery fan and aspiring writer so while she watches on the death is declared an accident she immediately begins pointing out the evidence to the contrary.

To the sheriff it looks as if Jacob was reaching for the Heavenly Gouda on a high shelf when it all fell on him. But Sister Agatha is quick to point out he is facing the opposite direction. There are also a few other questionable things around to point her towards thinking this was a murder so what else could she do but try to discover the murderer herself.

The Shadow of Death looked like it was going to be a cute cozy mystery that I might enjoy but when finished this one was just not my cup of tea unfortunately. The story starts off feeling a bit info-dumpy with it being chapter three before the characters begin to interact and speak so a bit too much telling to begin for my taste already leaving me a bit disconnected to start.

As the story gets going it also gets a bit boggled down with a lot of extra going on besides just the murder to solve. This brings in a lot of characters and action to keep track of for an opener when I’d rather be getting to know the main characters better. I also wondered here and there how realistic some things going on were. So while this one just didn’t pull me in there are others that seem to enjoy it more than I did so feel free to give this one a try for yourself.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

Find this book online: 

Goodreads  /   Amazon

About the author:

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 re-reading Jane Eyre, binge-watching Downton Abbey and trying out new ways to avoid exercise. This is her first Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn mystery.


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