In The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley, readers are instantly drawn into a world of murder and mystery, belief and questioning. Faith Morgan is a newly ordained minister in search of a church to shepherd. On a Sunday morning visit to a prospective church, tragedy strikes when the priest dies moments after drinking the communion wine. Faith is forced to walk the thin line separating her law-enforcement past and her pastoral present, all the while questioning the route her future will take.
Ockley’s vivid description of the English countryside and quaint characters masterfully sets the stage for the intrigue of small-town murder. In the wake of the priest’s death, Faith is reunited with Ben, her ex-boyfriend who is the policeman in charge of the murder investigation. Their past relationship and unfortunate break-up confuse Faith’s allegiances as she attempts both to aid in the investigation and take charge of the un-shepherded congregation.
Faith is a policewoman turned clergywoman after a career in law enforcement left her disillusioned and searching for redemption and healing. Her ex-boyfriend, Ben, does not respect her choice to leave the force to pursue her religion. He takes every opportunity to criticize Faith and her actions, yet gladly welcomes her help in the investigation. Faith struggles to find her place in the small community and in the church. Many Christians can relate to the doubt Faith experiences in her time of transition. Likewise, we can be comforted by the words from Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The book ends with a true twist, though the action leading to the climax is slow. Layers of allegiances and past love could have been energized better to engage the audience. Whereas Faith’s character asks some vital questions and some good answers are given, at the end of the book I wasn’t left with any deep impressions. For those who enjoy mystery but not too many thrills, this may be a good story. – Emily Simmons, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Faith Morgan, former policewoman and newly ordained priest in the Church of England, is visiting the village of Little Worthy, Winchester, to look around the parish where she is about to start her ministry. But within an hour of her arrival to the sleepy village she witnesses the sudden shocking death of a fellow priest during a communion service. One of the first police officers at the scene is Detective Inspector Ben Shorter, Faith's former boyfriend. They had been inseparable until Faith's sense of calling led her to question his drive for convictions, seemingly at any cost.