20 May 2008

EVIL INTENT, progress report

I am listening to EVIL INTENT by Kate Charles on CDs (10 of them actually, about 12 hours) as I drive to and from work.

Kate Charles is a new-to-me author, so I decided to find out about her. What I've found on her own website helps me understand what I have listened to so far.

Kate Charles, who was described by the Oxford Times as "a most English writer", is in fact an expatriate American, though an unashamedly Anglophilic one. She has a special interest and expertise in clerical mysteries, and lectures frequently on crime novels with church backgrounds. After more than twenty years in Bedford, Kate and her husband now live in Ludlow with their Border Terrier, Rosie.

Kate is a former Chairman of the Crime Writers' Association and the Barbara Pym Society. Her favourite hobby is visiting churches, and this interest is reflected in her various church society memberships, particularly WATCH (Women and the Church) and her enthusiastic support of Music in Country Churches.

If I summed up what I have listened to so far (nearly 2 hours in), this novel is about
  • the hostility to ordination of women in the Anglican church
  • the suppression of homosexuality.
Now I picked this up because I thought it was crime fiction. A murder is promised in the blurb, but none has eventuated so far, although there are many I would like to murder. There's been a lot of detailed description, the role of the vicar's wife, almost banality.

Here's the blurb:

Life in the clergy is quiet, respectful, peaceful or so Callie Anson believes when she begins her new job as curate to the Reverend Brian Stanford at All Saints Church in Paddington. Little does she realise how wrong she could be.

After the traumatic end of her relationship with fiancé Adam, the last thing Callie needs is any more emotional turmoil. But it seems she is not destined for a quiet life just yet. Knowing that women in the clergy are still disapproved of in certain quarters, Callie is prepared to face some criticism. But the deep-seated hatred shown by some of her respected male colleagues takes her by surprise, particularly the spiteful attack made by Father Jonah Adimola, a hard-line conservative Nigerian priest. Luckily, however, her good friend and mentor Frances Cherry is on hand to jump to her defence. But when Father Adimola is found strangled to death the next day and Frances is suspected of the crime, Callie must call upon her faith to steer her through the troubling and violent times ahead and help prove her friend's innocence. With DI Neville Stewart heading the investigation, it is not long before the ecclesiastical façade is chipped away to reveal the ugly truth of the hidden secrets of the clergy.

Things had better look up soon. I can feel things moving towards the first climax but there is a limit to how much of the day to day routine of church life that I can stand. I haven't even met DI Neville Stewart yet!


Anonymous said...

Dear Kerrie,
Those of us who love the works of Kate Charles were thrilled when Evil Intent was published because it meant we would again have a mystery series by Kate Charles. Her 5 Book of Psalms mysteries beginning with A Drink of Deadly Wine were wonderful. Then when publishing changed they asked her to write stand along mysteries. She published three of those but we all wished for a series.
Her series character Callie Anson was born in a short story in the book, Murder Most Catholic edited by Ralph McInerny in a story called "Through a Glass Darkly" The story takes place in Venice where Callie flees after Adam called off their engagement.

Please do stick with Evil Intent. You will be rewarded by rich characters and a good mystery. Then don't miss Secret Sins, the next book in the series. Trust me, Callie will not disappoint you.
Louisville Laurel

Anonymous said...

Don’t give up on Kate Charles, Kerrie. Her strength is her ability to draw wonderfully vivid characters and scenes, and she is quite skillful at creating a strong sense of place. While the novels are mysteries with murder and intrigue woven into the plot, Charles’s focus is more on character, especially in everyday situations like flower arranging for the church altar, providing the best cream cakes at tea for the local vicar, and pursuing the ongoing daily activities of church folk in a small English town or cathedral close. Often she is humorous and satirical, not in a sharply critical way but gently. She writes with inside knowledge of the Church of England and treats current issues, such as the position of women and gays in the church. Secret Sins, the second in the series, is more a traditional thriller, with a faster pace than Evil Intent. Kate Charles is well worth reading.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for the encouragement to keep reading, Laurel and Kittyanne. Its on hold just for the moment because I am visiting my daughter in Abu Dhabi, but I'll get back to listening in a couple of weeks.


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