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A Very Private Grave

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First in a new series of ecclesiastical thrillers set in the wilds of remote Yorkshire, England

Felicity Howard, a young American studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood. Following the cryptic clues contained in a poem the dead man had pressed upon her minutes before his death, she and Fr. ...

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A Very Private Grave

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First in a new series of ecclesiastical thrillers set in the wilds of remote Yorkshire, England

Felicity Howard, a young American studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood. Following the cryptic clues contained in a poem the dead man had pressed upon her minutes before his death, she and Fr. Antony--who is wanted for questioning by the police--flee the monastery to seek more information about Fr. Dominic and end up in the holy island of Lindisfarne, former home of Saint Cuthbert. Their quest leads them into a dark puzzle ... and considerable danger.

A Very Private Grave is a contemporary novel with a thoroughly modern heroine who must learn some ancient truths in order to solve the mystery and save her own life. The narrative skillfully mixes detection, intellectual puzzles, spiritual aspiration, romance, and the solving of clues both ancient and modern.

"History and mystery and murders most foul keep the pags turning . . . A fascinating read."

--Liz Curtis Higgs, bestselling author of Thorn in My Heart

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Strangers: A Faye Longchamp MysteryPoisoned PenMary Anna Evans , 24.95 (322p) ISBN Evans explores themes of protection, love, and loss in her absorbing sixth Faye Longchamp mystery (after 2009's Floodgates). A pregnant Faye and her husband, Joe Wolf Mantooth, who have started an archeological consulting business, are excited by their first big job--excavating the rear garden of Dunkirk Manor, a historic house in St. Augustine, Fla., that's now a bed-and-breakfast. When Glynis Smithson, the manor's attractive manager, goes missing, a note for Faye and several artifacts in her abandoned car are found. Blood on the front seat suggests foul play. The local police consult Faye about the artifacts, and her research skills provide important clues to Glynis's disappearance. Compelling extracts from a 16th-century Spanish priest's manuscript diary that Faye begins translating lend historical ballast. Determined that old mysteries see the light of day, the feisty Faye never gives up until justice is done. (Oct.)
Publishers Weekly
Crow (Glastonbury: The Novel of Christian England) kicks off a series of ecclesiastical thrillers with this story of a young American woman studying for the Anglican priesthood in Yorkshire, England. Felicity Howard finds her mentor, Father Dominic, bludgeoned to death and soon after flees with Father Antony, her church history lecturer, who is wanted for questioning in connection with the murder. Felicity and Antony pursue clues left them by Dominic that are related to seventh-century Saint Cuthbert, hoping that Dominic's quest will lead them to solve his murder. This plot promises, but fails to deliver. The narrative plods, the characterization is thin, the heavy-handed prose tells more than it shows ("A wave of desolation and despair washed over her"). A few features redeem: Anglophiles will appreciate Felicity's and Antony's travels and historical backdrop, and the puzzle related to Cuthbert is clever. But cozyphiles will be disappointed. (Sept.)
Ronald Blythe
Like a P. D. James novel A Very Private Grave occupies a learned territory. Also a beautifully described corner of England, that of the Northumbrian coast where St. Cuthbert's Christianity retains its powerful presence. Where myth and holiness, wild nature and tourism, art and prayer run in parallel, and capture the imagination still.
Church Libraries Journal
"A compelling thriller, as well as a masterful mystery, the mental gymnastics will have you breathlessly soaking in British and church history as you puzzle through a satisfying spiritual adventure with romantic, quirky characters. Anglophiles and history buffs will love it."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781854249685
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications
  • Publication date: 8/1/2010
  • Series: The Monastery Murders Series , #1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Donna Fletcher Crow is author of more than thirty-five novels. She has twice won first place in the Historical Fiction category from the National Association of Press Women, and has also been a finalist for "Best Inspirational Novel" from the Romance Writers of America. She is a member of The Arts Centre Group, and Sisters in Crime.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    American Felicity has a pleasing mix of brash certainty and reli

    American Felicity has a pleasing mix of brash certainty and religious questioning. English Anthony, by contrast, has quiet confidence and religious conviction. And both are soon on the run through the North of England after arriving first and second on the scene of a gruesome murder. But who would kill gentle Father Dominic? And what secret did he carry to the grave?

    An American in England, or a layperson in a monastery, both will relate to Felicity’s sense of “counter-cultural existence... living in a parallel universe.” Author Donna Fletcher Crow skillfully conveys the contrasting viewpoints of her very different protagonists as this murder mystery progresses. Equally skillful and evocative is her portrayal of history and landscape, both of them surely characters in this tale.

    “Holiness can be a very irritating quality,” says one character. Another condemns himself with prayer; “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done...” while the words of scripture and devotions bring his inner musings to vivid life. Felicity hides real doubts and real concerns behind her growing faith, and others hide real secrets. But deepest are the secrets of ancient history, its imprint still clear on church, state and landscape in the wilds of Lindisfarne.

    I’ve been to Seahouses. I remember the awe-inspiring sight of Bamburgh Castle overlooking the sea. And this story feels real. The gently romantic elements and mystery seem eminently plausible. The history, land and architecture are beautifully researched. And the Christian faith is integral to characters and tale, not a manufactured add-on, or a tool for conversion or betrayal.

    Disclosure: I’ve read others in this series. Now I’m delighted to have finally read the start.

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  • Posted October 20, 2010

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    Fans of Brit Lit

    I struggled to follow along as Felicity and Father Anthony work to uncover the bloody death of Father Dominic, while they are pursued by both police and a would-be murderer. However, it did not grab me, and I just could not read past the halfway mark. Father Anthony, a teacher who lectures in class, spends a good bit of time lecturing to Felicity. She becomes bored; so did I. Perhaps, you'll be interested.

    Fans of British Literature will enjoy the allusions to medieval history in this Christian fiction work of murder and mystery. Although the plot is contemporary, it contains a good bit of early English religious history. Included is the mysterious life and death of a man named Saint Cuthbert, who, after his death, did not decompose in a normal fashion. His body was moved about Northern England, and the protagonists follow the route. Intertwined, a treasure hunt adds further intrigue.

    Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Monarch Books for my copy.

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  • Posted October 19, 2010

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    Great new mystery

    Felicity grabs you into this wonderful story from the beginning. You want to jump right on in and solve this murder yourself.

    Donna does a great job with all the history and lessons about God. This book is suspenseful at times along with thrilling. I don't think there is one person out there that will not like this book. I do however think the history is going to bog some down a bit.

    I rather enjoyed this book and think others will as well.

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  • Posted September 22, 2010

    1st in Monastery Murders is cerebral thriller

    A Very Private Grave by Donna Fletcher Crow is the first book in the Monastery Murders. Felicity Howard is studying for her Anglican priesthood at a monastery in Yorkshire when her beloved friend Father Dominic is found brutally murdered in his room and another monk, Father Antony is standing over him covered in blood. When the authorities naturally suspect Antony, his superior orders him to flee with Felicity to discover what treasure that Dominic had discovered on his recent pilgrimage had caused his murder. The two retrace his path and that of St Cuthbert's body across northern England in hopes of finding the murderer and maybe even a treasure, while Felicity tries to forget that her traveling partner just may be a murder. Readers looking for a fast-paced treasure hunt will be disappointed with this book; The DaVinci Code it ain't. But readers who love a good historical yarn mixed with modern day suspense will fall in love with Crow's quiet and cerebral writing. Much of the book is a fascinating retelling of the mysterious life of Saint Cuthbert, as well as the travels of his body, which were even more fascinating! Antony is a tortured character with a secret past that haunts him in his interactions with Felicity. She is a smart and beautiful heroine who doesn't always have the best instincts when it comes to men. This intelligent writer has the potential to write a terrific series.

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  • Posted September 22, 2010

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    Where is St. Cuthbert's body?

    An excellent mystery thriller with several different twists to the plot. I liked how Felicity was presented as a student who was actually more interested in the aspects of saving the world than in learning about God like so many people of today. I also liked that Father Antony was given to uncertainty, a very human failure often overlooked in the traits of priests. The book was full of ancient history about St. Cuthbert, the early history of the church and the myths developed over the years around the travels of his body. As a first book it certainly sets the stage for the series.

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  • Posted September 22, 2010

    Book One of The Monastery Murders by Donna Fletcher Crow

    In A Very Private Grave, the first book of The Monastery Murders, a young American, Felicity Howard, is studying to become a priest at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire. Her beloved Fr. Dominic is brutally bludgeoned to death, descending Felicity into devastation. However, shortly before Fr. Dominic is murdered, he stops to see Felicity and gives her a gift, which she thinks is a book of his poems.

    Felicity's church history lecturer, Fr. Antony, is found with Fr. Dominic's blood dripping from his hands.

    Later, while Fr. Antony and Felicity are going over the 'gift book,' which is actually Fr. Dominic's itinerary of his last pilgrimage, they are told to flee, as the police are looking to arrest him. They are thrust into a search to find the treasure Fr. Dominic alludes to, eluding the police, and finding the murderer(s).

    I loved the way Donna mixed the narrative style of writing into her storyline, delineating the ancient history of the church through Fr. Antony, who is literally a 'walking history book.' She intertwines murder, stalking, ancient historical puzzles, romance, and the search to find the murder(s) and clues, which keeps you as intrigued, frustrated and frazzled as her characters, wondering how the puzzle pieces fit together. In fact, it ended too abruptly, as I was expecting to read more about the main characters. She definitely has you wondering who had the motive and opportunity to bludgeon Fr. Dominic, and why!

    There are a few things I did not like, such as insinuating that St. Cuthbert was the 'Holy One who would not see corruption,' as that pertains to Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, as well what constitutes a saint, which does not agree with what I see in Scripture. Some of the ancient history bogged me down, but it was necessary to work out the plot.

    That said, I wouldn't hesitate to read additional books she writes in The Monastery Murders series!

    Special thanks to Donna Fletcher Crow for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted September 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Fantastic New Mystery!

    Death. History. Present. Unforgettable characters. Those are some of the things that make up this start to a new series by Donna Fletcher Crow, an extremely talented author. I loved reading this novel. The only down side I had was the very first page, the prologue. It sort of dragged a bit. But once I got past the prologue and on to the first chapter, Donna had me captured and pulled into the center of this awesome book right along side the characters. I felt a part of the story as if Donna had created me as a character.

    Felicity is an amazing character. She really drew me in from the start, with her wit and her grit. She was all set to take on solving the mysterious puzzle of what happened to Fr. Dominic, her best friend and mentor at her college in England. Fr. Antony, who is being pinned as a suspect in the murder of Fr. Dominic, is partnered with Felicity as they travel this journey across the lands, following clues left by Fr. Dominic. These clues involve ancient history, and present day, making it more of a history lesson wrapped up into a murderous crime solving situation.I fell in love with both these characters as I, too, went on this captivating puzzle solving, spiritual journey with them.

    A Very Private Grave is an incredible start to this series. It's suspenseful and thrilling, full of lessons in faith and honesty, belief and a splash of romance for added flavor. There was a need-to-know-what-happened-next thrill to this story making it a page turner! The mystery is fulfilling and the historical aspects and lessons from God are intriguing and riveting. So, if you're in need of a great new mystery novel, this 4 star book by Donna Fletcher Crow is the best place to start. It will leave you hungry for more work by her and make you anxious for the next book in the Monestary Murders series!

    *This book was provided for review by FIRST WildCard Tours and the author*

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