The little town of Easport has not been keeping up with the rest of the nation when it comes to violent crime statistics. When the first murder in over fifty years claims the life of Mac Curtis, a tough local real estate developer, the entire village gets involved. Police Chief Dan Burke heads the investigation into the murder and enlists the aid of his old friend Andrew Doane, who is better known as Brother Bartholomew, the name he assumed when he took his vows as a monk at Faith Abbey . . . The first novel in a new series is already receiving massive word of
mouth praise as a potential best mystery novel of the year and we agree.
No mystery as to our pick of the week. Orleans author David Manuel has penned a terrific little thriller, the first in what promises to be a long, healthy "Faith Abbey" series. Manuel melds fact and fiction -- part of the fun (besides trying to figure out who-dun-it) is trying'to figure out the "real" from the "fake" . . . Faith Abbey is the Community of Jesus (of which the author is a member), the locale of Eastport is Eastham, Norma's Cafe is Nonnie's Country Kitchen. Real Cape hot spots are also mentioned, such as Mid-Cape Highway, Nauset Regional High
School and Snow Library. A sweet-smelling, suspenseful rose -- but watch out for the thorns!
Thank God for a small pressesin this case, Paraclete, a religious concern in
Massachusetts that has given David Manuel's
A Matter of Roses such a handsome
sendoff-a beautifully designed book as well as an intriguing and shapely mystery. Forget the
brain-dead links to Brother Cadfael in other reviews: Manuel's Brother Bartholemew is a thoroughly modern character who just happens to live in a monastery on Cape Cod, struggling to
center himself and in danger of losing that struggle when he responds to a call for help from a
lifelong friend in solving murder. November 21, 1999
...wonderfully entertaining and holds one's interest to the end.
Take a rainy afternoon to curl up and read this book. The story and the characters will draw you in.(Living Light News, May/June 2000)
Eastport, MA, is a quiet coastal village that caters to the tourist trade. The small
community's solitude is shattered when local real-estate developer Mac Curtis is found floating in a pond. Mac, who made numerous enemies while creating his empire, had developed an expensive resort there. When police chief Dan Burke's investigation is stymied, he asks an old high school friend for assistance. Brother Bartholomew brings the wisdom from his monastic life to this fast-paced murder mystery. Violent scenes describing rape and disembowelment aren't for the gentlest readers but are delicately worded so as not to offend most armchair detectives. Recommend to readers who don't like sugarcoating but who enjoy spiritual truths included in their mysteries.
CBA Market Place
The first fiction title published by Paraclete kicks off "the Faith Abbey Mystery" series. Set in the sleepy Cape Cod town of Eastport, the book juxtaposes the way two very different men go about the process of discovering the truth. Andrew Doane and Dan Burke were childhood friends. Andrew has joined the ecumenical religious community of Faith Abbey and taken the name of Brother Bartholomew, and Dan has become the police chief. Together, they try to track down a killer. Mac Curtis, the man behind a generally unwelcome upscale development, tries to ingratiate himself and his project by establishing a prize for the best new rose. The finalists gather at a reception hosted by Mac and his wife. Among the chosen are Maurice and Sarah, Bartholomew, his mother, his former fianc e, a local eccentric environmentalist and others. The next day, Mac is found face down in the water at the edge of his pond. It turns out that many locals had a reason to want him dead. Stretched to the limit, Chief Burke calls upon Brother Bartholomew, who has a personal crisis of his own to overcome. Manuel proceeds in a leisurely fashion to introduce both the religious and lay communities, conveying the atmosphere of a place where life may be slower paced, but no less complex than in the big city. As a result, the mystery unfolds in a languid fashion, but there should be much more to learn about the chief, the brother and their neighbors in future trips to Eastport.
FYI: PW contributing editor Phyllis Tickle is the editor of "the Faith Abbey Mystery" series.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mac Curtis, a Vietnam veteran skilled at killing, becomes a ruthless real estate developer on Cape Cod. His latest venture teeters into failure and ruins his partners, but Mac obsesses about a woman who rejected him in Vietnam and later married a rose specialist. Mac gathers at a rose competition with other major players: a beautiful librarian, her ex-lover (now a monk at Faith Abbey), a lunatic "commodore," an environmentalist web-pager, and the chief of police. Attempted murder-by-bees and murder-in-a-storm result in investigation by the police and sleuthing by Brother Bartholomew. Chock-full of action and character subplots, this debut mystery (and series) is totally captivating. [This is Paraclete Press's first fiction title.--Ed.]
Library Journal - Library Journal
A Matter of Roses is the first of a new "Faith Abbey Mystery" series from David Manuel. The story takes place in a sleepy fishing town on Cape Cod, where citizens from all walks of life become entangled in the first murder that town had seen in half a century. The victim was a notorious real estate developer. The investigator is Police Chief Dan Burke who must deal with the pressure of national media attention and an incipient mutiny on his own police force. Chief Burke recruits the assistance of a childhood friend who became a monk at the nearby
Faith Abbey. Brother Bartholomew is grappling with his chosen vocation and tormented by the re-appearance of the woman who was once the love of his life. In A Matter of Roses, the author (a resident member of an ecumenical Christian community on Cape Cod which includes a monastic brotherhood),
draws from his own personal experience for background detail as he weaves together a story of suspense, romance, humor, and everyday monastic life in a fast-paced, engaging mystery novel. Highly recommended.
Not only is finding out a solution fun, gripping and exciting, but the quality of writing makes your heart sing.
This is a first novel and the first in a promising new mystery series. It features
Brother Bartholemew of the Faith Abbey. No, this isn't a medieval Brother Cadfael takeoff.
Faith Abbey sits near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and the setting is today. The resemblance
between Cadfael and Bartholemew stops with their calling....Manuel does a wonderful job of
mixing in the details of the day-to-day routine at the monastery. Brother Bartholemew is fully developed, tangling with his own inner demons and moral issues as he tries to unearth a killer. His friend the Police Chief has his own problems brewing and the tiny burg of Eastport holds its own secret connections and rivalries.
This story has all the right charms a human, thoughtful and likable protagonist, a well
rounded supporting cast, an interesting setting, and a strong storytellers hand. We expect
this may be a very popular series with collectors. BookLine highly recommends A Matter of Roses.
Mystery Collectors Bookline
In a thoughtful and leisurely way, David Manuel introduces us to a group of unforgettable, idiosyncratic characters and two appalling murders. When Maurice Tomlinson nearly dies of anaphylactic shock from bee stings at the wrong time of the year for bees we know immediately that something is wrong in the community of Eastport on Cape Cod.
From the ruthless real estate developer Mac Curtis to his unrequited love Sarah Hillman Tomlinson; from laurel Winslow to Andrew Doane known as Brother Bartholemew in the ecumenical Christian community of Faith Abbey; from Commodore Wolson Peters, who never held that rank, to Chief of Police Burke, who has never investigated a homicide... These are the characters of Eastport. Their backgrounds are beautifully detailed, giving the reader an understanding of the reasons why they became the people they are. It comes as no surprise to
discover who the victim of murder is because we know these people so well. Very likely if one were trying to identify the murderer, that would come as no surprise either, but it is much more enjoyable to let the story unfold and learn, in the fullness of time, who the killer was.
The descriptions of Cape Cod are almost lyrical. The author takes the reader to the island and makes it come alive. The seas, the sky, the terrible storm all provide the perfect backdrop. "In sunlight, this late afternoon, [the breakers] would have been iridescent emerald, shot through with silver and gold. But in this billowing fog, they were only a dull grey." Author Manuel is equally adept at developing character. The people in these pages are colorful, believable
individuals. The mystery is good, and the suspense of the last few chapters certainly grabs the reader's attention
Sally Fellows, The Book Reporter