2019 Silver Falchion Candidate




The Hour of Death

By Jane Willan
Crooked Lane
ISBN 978-1683317593
Publication Date: October 2018

The Hour of Death

Review by Bill Hopkins

This is a British village murder mystery. That genre is not as breathless and rapid as a lot of American series, but you have to love this one. The Hour of Death by Jane Willan is the second installment of the series featuring Sister Agatha (a wannabe writer) and Father Selwyn (her confidant). It takes place in Pryderi, Wales and involves the nuns who reside at Gwenafwy Abbey. An unfortunate death takes place in the parish hall. The coppers don’t think it’s a homicide so the scene is swept clean of all forensic evidence. Maybe. Sister Agatha plunges ahead with a murder investigation because she not only wants to be a mystery novelist but also yearns to be a real-life detective.

What I found appealing about this story is the development of characters and the way they behave in the midst of the Welsh countryside side where a nasty old capitalist is determined to destroy a “fairy meadow” and put up cheap houses.

Sister Agatha, with her trusty notebook at the ready, does her best to interrogate people without seeming to be a real detective approaching reluctant suspects. Although I hadn’t read the first in the series, I was able to cobble together the backstory on Sister Agatha. In fact, every page (it seems) reveals some new fact about Sister Agatha or her surroundings. I also appreciate her comments about real-life books she’s reading and about the authors who wrote the books. Add to that, she describes her own book she’s writing and the problems she’s having with her characters in that book. This leads to a bunch of puzzles.

This book made me literally laugh out loud. I’m going back to read the first in the series. I don’t doubt that I’ll be just as entertained by the first as I was the second!

Retired judge Bill Hopkins is from Missouri. His poems, short-stories, non-fiction, and plays have appeared in different venues. Bill is a member of Sisters In Crime, Horror Writers Association, Heartland Writers Guild, and SEMO Writers Guild. He and his wife Sharon Woods Hopkins (also a mystery writer) live in Marble Hill. COURTING MURDER was Bill’s first novel in the Judge Rosswell Carew series. The second novel RIVER MOURN won first place in the Missouri Writers’ Guild Show-Me Best Book Awards in 2014. THE ANGEL SPOKE MURDER, the latest and seventh novel, was published in 2019.