Book Review – Murder Before Evensong by Rev Richard Coles

books, reviews

Rating: 3 out of 5.

So, this week hasn’t turned out quite like I’d expected. The week started with the news that a few other guests at my friend’s wedding had got Covid. So, I madly started testing and, on Wednesday, found out that I had it too. So, instead of my normal week, I’ve been battling with exhaustion and trying to fight it off. Thankfully, it’s only like bad flu. Not what I wanted but it could have been worse. Of course, it does mean that I haven’t really done much reading. I’ve just not had the attention span. I hope this lack of energy doesn’t last. I can’t cope with just lying down all day. Plus, I’ve just pre-ordered several new books. Speaking of pre-ordering.

I love a cosy crime novel and I was really excited to see what Richard Coles would offer. So, I pre-ordered this as soon as possible. I was absolutely sure that I was going to love everything about it. I’m not exactly religious but I was born into a C of E family. So, I wasn’t even that bothered by the idea of the Churchy elements. I was excited to dive in. My excitement didn’t last long. Over the week or so that it took for me to finish this, it really did dwindle. I’ve been disappointed by a pre-order before but I don’t think I’ve ever been this disappointed before.

The idea of the novel was great. Canon Daniel Clement has been the Rector of Champton for 8 years now. He is getting used to parish politics, so he is hardly surprised that his plan to install a toilet is met with a mixed response. What he could never expect would be that it would create quite so much tension. But would this increased tension actually lead to murder? When Anthony Bowness, cousin of the patron of Champton, turns up dead, Daniel has to try to prevent the community from falling apart. As the police investigation picks up the pace, what will Daniel discover about the murder? And is he going to figure out who the killer is?

I think Daniel has the potential to be a great crime solver. He’s got access to the whole community and has an attention to detail that really aids the police. The only problem is you don’t really get to see him solving a crime. This isn’t one of those crime books that takes you through an investigation. It’s the kind that just relies on feelings and intuition. The murder is finally solved because of a vibe. There’s a lack of real evidence and no clues for the reader to solve along the way. I always find it disappointing and a bit of a cop-out if I’m not given all of the tools I need to solve the murder.

During this narrative, we spend much more time learning about Daniel’s daily activities than any suspects. We only have about 2 suspects and they are instantly ruled out. There is so much meandering and subplots going on here that I found myself losing interest. There’s so much context to wade through in this novel. You start to forget that there even was a murder. The pacing really is too slow that it’s easy for your mind to wander Add to that the many characters that are never defined enough to make them stand out. I found myself forgetting who was who. It made it a very frustrating experience.

I don’t think it’s all bad though and it very easily be a first book problem. There would be a lot to introduce and get to grips with. Maybe in the future, there will be less emphasis on the Church admin and more time on the murder? I can’t say that I’m going to be quite as eager to pick up the next book but I’ll probably give it a chance. I do have to say, I wish all of the celebrity writers would stop assuming that it’s really easy to write cosy crime. As we keep seeing, it’s not something that everyone can pull off.

3 thoughts on “Book Review – Murder Before Evensong by Rev Richard Coles

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