To compare Lorena McCourtney’s new sleuth, Andalusia “Andi” McConnell, to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple is a stretch. But imagine an episode of “Murder, She Wrote” with a little more bite, and you’ll have an idea what to expect from McCourtney’s new novel, Your Chariot Awaits.
Andalusia has just found out that her much younger boyfriend, Jerry, is a real jerk. He’s in the middle of giving her the “let’s just be friends” speech when a cousin Andi has never met pulls up to the house in a limousine that turns out to be Andi’s inheritance from an eccentric uncle. This revelation causes Jerry to show his true colors. He acts inappropriately toward Andi, and she responds by chasing him away with a shovel in a blind rage, thinking that it’s a broom.
Then, on her sixtieth birthday, Andi walks outside to check on the limo, only to be knocked unconscious by a blow to the head from behind. When Andi wakes up, Jerry’s dead body is in the limo’s trunk, and a nosy neighbor who witnessed the shovel incident is pointing the finger at her.
As Andalusia plunges deeper into her ex’s shadowy activities, she is assisted by two plucky sidekicks: Joella, a pregnant barista and the tenant of Andi’s duplex, and Fitz, a detective who’s not really a detective, but played one on TV.
In many ways, Your Chariot Awaits has more in common with older mysteries than more recent works in the genre. While many newer novels portray the murder victim as an unfortunate soul mourned by his community, McCourtney proves that it’s still just as effective for the corpse to belong to a creep who had it coming. And while many recent novels in the genre are overloaded with supporting characters who contribute very little to the plot, McCourtney’s novel has just the right amount of suspects, all who have perfect motives for wanting the repulsive Jerry out of the way.
As a result of this, Your Chariot Awaits is a breezy and enjoyable murder mystery in the tradition of detective shows like Murder, She Wrote, and Matlock, with focus divided squarely between plot twists and characterizations and tongue firmly in cheek. Yet, McCourtney also manages to give Andi two things many amateur sleuths of that era were lacking: a viable excuse for taking up detecting (Andi’s trying to clear her name, as she feels she is the prime suspect in the murder) and the appropriate resources to do so (Fitz used to rub elbows with the consultants on his detective show, and is, therefore, able to walk Andi step-by-step through the crime-solving process). Also, while Andi McConnell isn’t likely to reach the level of immortality of her predecessors, her sassy attitude and venomous sense of humor separate her from other sixty plus detectives.
The plot and prose are as stylish and as sleek as Andi’s new limousine, and several subplots are included in the same breezy fashion. This includes the details of Andi’s relationship with God, which flows along naturally with the course of the novel and doesn’t seem at all to be tacked on like in similar novels. Also, McCourtney manages to provide the mystery with a satisfyingly wicked final twist, although some armchair detectives may find the solution a little unfair due to the author’s stinginess when it comes to juicy pieces of evidence.
While Andi McConnell is certainly not the next great amateur sleuth of detective fiction, fans of fluffy whodunits and hardcore armchair detectives alike should find Lorena McCourtney’s latest to be a pleasant diversion. -- Sean M. Cogan, Christian Book Previews.com
In the course of one week Andi McConnell turns sixty, loses her job, breaks up with her boyfriend, and receives an unexpected inheritance from an eccentric rich uncle--a sleek black stretch limousine with bulletproof windows. She knows it's totally impractical--yet the limo has an allure that Andi can hardly resist.
The allure is considerably dampened, however, with the discovery of a dead body in the trunk. So Andi joins forces with a nosy but charming former TV private eye in a bumbling and often hilarious attempt to find the killer.
Fasten your seatbelt! Your Chariot Awaits is a perfect combination of mystery, mishap, and mayhem--with the quirkiest and funniest of chauffers who's set to take you on the ride of a lifetime.