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The Tentmaker (Lily Connor) by Michelle…

The Tentmaker (Lily Connor)

by Michelle Blake

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0425176681, Mass Market Paperback)

To that extremely short list of crime-solving clerics who manage to be convincing as both priests and detectives (such as G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown and Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael) , we can now add Lily Connor. "In the most peaceful of settings, she still gave off an incongruous set of messages in her jeans, hand-tooled cowboy boots, army surplus slicker and clerical collar," writes Michelle Blake of Lily in her impressive debut. "In high school she had been the skinny overgrown geek, the outcast, the reader of poems and 19th Century novels. She still pictured herself that way." Her best friend Charlie, a fellow Episcopalian priest, tries to convince her that being tall and skinny now, at 36, makes her not a geek but a cultural icon. Lily is equally unsure of her role in the church: she had been running a women's center in Boston until her father's terminal illness took her home to Texas for six months. Now she's back in Boston, working as the interim priest--or tentmaker--at a rich church whose rector has just died under circumstances that turn out to be suspicious.

Blake, a poet who has a master's degree from Harvard Divinity School, writes cool and sparkling prose that gives her first mystery an unusual depth. As the church struggles with issues of sexuality, her clerics and parishioners mirror that struggle. Did the late Father Barnes kill himself with an overdose of insulin because of his feelings toward the 16-year-old son of one of the congregation's richest members? That's one possibility; even worse is the chance that Father Barnes was murdered because of someone else's sins. Equally riveting is Lily's growing dilemma: what to do with the potential scandal that she has unearthed. "Back at her desk, she thought of the ways in which her life and vocation had always been so clear to her, the terrain mapped miles into the future--mountains and plains, good guys and bad guys, right and wrong, faith, friendship. Now she groped down a dim corridor, feeling her way inch by inch, barely able to tell where she stood at that instant, much less where anyone else stood, much less where she was headed."

It's this quality of enriched uncertainty that bonds us with Lily, regardless of our own beliefs, and makes this such a promising debut. --Dick Adler

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:40 -0400)

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Sleuth Lily Connor investigates the death of an Episcopal priest in a Boston parish. Officially the priest died of an insulin overdose, but Lily, a priest from Texas sent as a replacement, suspects foul play.

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