Friday, June 15, 2012

A Darkly Hidden Truth - The Monastery Murders 2 by Donna Fletcher Crow

 Published by Monarch Books

This book begins with an interesting history, based on legend and fact about the Anchoress, Julian of Norwich, "enclosed" in c1375 AD at the Church of St. Julian the Hospitaller. From this prologue the story begins. Now partially in ruins the Church has been restored several times, and the current building is a reconstruction, including the cell from which Julian gave her advice. The story is dispersed throughout the book as a background theme, mainly as reconstructed as the Church itself, but still based on her writings.

A bit of a slow start I thought, but mostly because I felt Felicity, the main character, to be rather flighty, a little over-the-top with her spontaneous changes of direction and emotions, but these become an asset later in the book. The main story takes place during Lent and the icon for their monastery must be returned by Easter. As Felicity struggles to grasp what her feelings are toward becoming a nun she tries to understand what Julian's devotion and seclusion felt. She must also question her increasing feelings for Antony. She has been advised to go on retreat to some convents of various types to learn her true feelings about becoming a nun, a "discernment" of sorts. What is her true reasoning? Is she too attached to the world? Is she running from her feelings of abandonment by her mother? And after so many years of her mother's focus on work rather than her daughter, why is she suddenly coming to visit?

This is not just a book of religion however, there is a mystery afoot, the theft of religious icons, the disappearance of a friend, history, mystery, murder and mayhem, all are part and parcel of this, the second in the Monastery Murders series. The main story takes place during Lent and the icon for their monastery must be returned by Easter. What is the meaning of the Maltese crosses on the backs of these icons? This question thrusts Felicity and Antony, her good friend and partner in Book 1, right into the world of the mysterious Knights of Malta, the Knights Hospitaller. Well researched, descriptive, compelling and creative, Donna Fletcher Crow really knows how to grab her audience. I learned some fascinating history while enjoying this fast-paced mystery.

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