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Murder Before Evensong: The instant no. 1 Sunday Times bestseller (Canon Clement Mystery) Paperback – 9 Jun. 2022
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THE FIRST NOVEL IN THE REVEREND RICHARD COLES' CANON CELEMENT MYSTERY SERIES
'Cosy crime with a cutting edge'
'Even better than I knew it would be'
INDIA KNIGHT, THE SUNDAY TIMES
'Charming and funny'
OBSERVER, Thriller of the Month
'I've been waiting for a novel with vicars, rude old ladies, murder and sausage dogs ... et voila!'
'The unlikely heir to Barbara Pym'
'Whodunnit fans can give praise and rejoice'
'A cunning whodunnit... A sharp but sympathetic portrayal of everyday life in a small community'
'You'll want to take a front row pew in Champton while this delicious series unfolds'
'Coles' murderous take on a quintessentially English parish makes for a likeable, cosy crime caper'
'Champton joins St Mary Mead and Midsomer in the great atlas of fictional English villages where the crimes are as dastardly as the residents delightful'
Canon Daniel Clement is Rector of Champton. He has been there for eight years, living at the Rectory alongside his widowed mother - opinionated, fearless, ever-so-slightly annoying Audrey - and his two dachshunds, Cosmo and Hilda.
When Daniel announces a plan to install a lavatory in church, the parish is suddenly (and unexpectedly) divided: as lines are drawn, long-buried secrets come dangerously close to destroying the apparent calm of the village.
And then Anthony Bowness - cousin to Bernard de Floures, patron of Champton - is found dead at the back of the church, stabbed in the neck with a pair of secateurs.
As the police moves in and the bodies start piling up, Daniel is the only one who can try and keep his fractured community together... and catch a killer.
The Reverend Richard Coles gives us a serpent in England's pastoral Eden - and whodunit fans can give praise and rejoice. ― Ian Rankin
Britain's favourite vicar might be hanging up the dog collar, but in Murder Before Evensong he proves to be the unlikely heir to Barbara Pym...
Coles is free here to unleash a splendidly caustic wit on those parishioners who deserve it... as Daniel locks horns with his flock over the matter of whether the vintage pews in St Mary's can be moved to make way for a new lavatory, Coles rivals Barbara Pym in his ability to make supremely low-stake conflict gripping... Like all the best cosy mysteries, this is comforting but not anodyne. And the style suits the content perfectly: wonderfully feline when it comes to jokes, but moving easily to unselfconscious wisdom when required. Auden would have admired this novel for meeting his requirements for the classical detective story: but he might also have recognised Coles as being, at his best, a fellow artist with words.
Even better than I knew it would be. Really well plotted... beautifully written, charming without being twee, funny, intelligent and mordant too. It's cosy, yes, but waaay better than "cosy crime" suggests. -- India Knight ― SUNDAY TIMES
Murder Before Evensong is like a walk in the country on a warm summer's evening... one during which your fellow ramblers can be murdered horribly at any moment. Canon Daniel Clement is an inscrutable and erudite detective, while four-legged sidekicks Hilda and Cosmo are his delightful foils. You'll want to take a front row pew in Champton while this delicious series unfolds. ― Janice Hallett, author of The Appeal
An absolute joy from cover to cover - funny, clever and wonderfully plotted. Praise be! ― Adam Kay
Beautifully written and a warm funny joy from start to finish. ― Sarah Millican
Perfect for those who like their cosy crime to have a cutting edge. ― Ben Aaronovitch
Glorious. ― Robert Webb
Champton joins St Mary Mead and Midsomer in the great atlas of fictional English villages where the crimes are as dastardly as the residents delightful. Canon Daniel Clement must solve mysteries temporal and theological while surviving his parishioners tender ministries. Delightful! And only Richard Coles could pull this off so joyfully and with such style. Biscuit-thieving Cosmo, too, will soon have his own fan club. ― Damian Barr
Coles has a gift for subtle comic writing... beyond the fascinating story with its rich characters, the real discovery here is the sniffing out of the author's formidable talent for writing about English life with English humour. Roll on the rest of the series! -- The Reverend Jonathan Aitken ― THE OLDIE
Coles does a wonderful job of bringing his congregation to life... [and] moves seamlessly between humour and something deeper... Charming and funny, it is just what you'd expect from the excellent Coles. -- Alison Flood ― THE OBSERVER, Thriller of the Month
Coles' murderous take on a quintessentially English parish makes for a likeable, cosy crime caper. -- Jon Coates ― SUNDAY EXPRESS
Cosy crime with a cutting edge. ― SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
A good old page-turner with brilliantly drawn characters, from the aristocratic de Floures to Daniel's astute, snobbish mother, and dachshunds so real you can almost smell them. -- Rose Shepherd ― SAGA, Book of the Month
[A] cunning whodunnit... This wise and often beautifully written novel remains most memorable as a sharp but sympathetic portrayal of everyday life in a small community and a clergyman's role within it. -- Jake Kerridge ― DAILY EXPRESS
Richard Coles is one of the most sparkling, entertaining, clever and lovable people in public life, as rare and precious to British culture as a Norman cathedral. ― Victoria Coren Mitchell
Murder Before Evensong has all the elements that make up a classic detective story: a pitch-perfect setting, a genuine puzzle, a gruesome murder (or more) and engaging characters. I enjoyed it very much. ― Philip Pullman
Coles' rendering of his fictional church, St Mary's, in the village of Champton, twinkles with quirky detail and sharp humour. -- Paul Connolly ― METRO
A wry, tongue-in cheek and whimsical debut with more than a trace of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown... charming. -- Geoffrey Wansell ― DAILY MAIL
Violent deaths aside, it's a cosy world of Desert Island Discs, flower rotas and walnut cakes, beautifully written and evocative, run through with the comforting, ancient liturgical rhythms that transport you to Evensong and gentle organ music in a cool country church on a summer's evening. -- Kate Green ― COUNTRY LIFE
This has all the ingredients of a brilliant new cosy crime series. -- Susan Watson ― MY WEEKLY
A brilliant crime romp set in a village full of gossip and secrets. -- Zoe West ― WOMAN'S WEEKLY
A deliciously thrilling murder mystery. -- Susan Watson ― WOMAN'S WEEKLY SUMMER SPECIAL
He's very good on the nitty-gritty of a clergyman's life. His likable protagonist Canon Daniel Clement's struggle to get parishioners to accept the installation of a new church toilet is every bit as gripping as his investigation of the inevitable series of mystifying murders. -- John Williams ― MAIL ON SUNDAY
Coles is a sharp observer of human nature, but his observations are tempered with both humour and compassion, and much of the pleasure in the book lies in the incidental asides. -- CAROLINE CHARTRES ― CHURCH TIMES
Coles adds another string to his bow with this witty, Barbara Pym-ish village whodunnit about a crime-solving cleric. ― THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, Best Holiday Reads
- Publisher : W&N; 1st edition (9 Jun. 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1399604155
- ISBN-13 : 978-1399604154
- Dimensions : 15.2 x 2.8 x 23.2 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 69,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 June 2022
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Like Richard Osman before him, Richard Coles has put his name on a book (like Osman’s books, the contents of this book do not qualify as writing so we can’t really call him a writer, it wouldn’t be fair on real writers) and the results are awful.
It is cozy-crime of the most cloying, insidious and remedial nature, with the barest possible effort made for it to have a beginning, a middle and an end (which doesn’t come soon enough). Too many (dull) characters, overlong and complex sentences, boring pacing - this is an amateurish work.
It will be a bestseller because it has Richard Coles’ name on it, but great literature it is not.
I really wanted to love this book, and I did like it, very much. But I was disappointed - it is a good, solid whodunnit. But I felt Richard Coles could have done so much better - it didn't sparkle, it was pedestrian; I found it difficult to differentiate between the various church ladies.... but don't let that stop you reading it. I just think Revd Richard could do so much better!
That said I'm faintly staggered by the gushing reviews for this one, many of which come from well-established authors.
For me, the book felt endless, literally, as I never reached the end. Rector Daniel, our protagonist, doesn't do much in the way of sleuthing or anything else, for that matter. I suppose he spends a lot of time pondering about church arcana.
Most of the Champton villagers serve as little more than wallpaper, they move in and out of the story and add little.
I've no idea who the culprit is because 50% of the way in, I really didn't care.
A miss for me, pity.
Written beautifully and interspersed with challenging words even Susie Dent might need to look up - English teachers across the UK rejoice!
Authors write with passion when they write on something they know - so adding the religious element to the book is a triumph (and I'm an agnostic).
Certainly promising start to a series and cant wait for the TV adaptations. Will certainly add this series to my list.
I love listening to Richard Coles on the TV and radio - so to have extended insight into his extraordinary mind in print is a privilege.
Despite its 1980s setting, this is very much an ‘upstairs, downstairs’ cosy mystery with a cast of characters ranging from the village’s patron, Bernard de Floures, to the ladies who ‘do’ in the village church. The story takes a long time to get going, and it comes with some relief when a body finally turns-up at around a quarter of the way into the book. Unfortunately, the pace changes little throughout, and even though there is a half-decent cosy mystery here, there’s not a lot of action, and it’s somewhat spoiled by the clumsily telegraphed clues that appear well before the end.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, this is a book littered with biblical references and the minutiae of religious ceremony. There’s even a corpulent Bishop that makes an appearance towards the end. It’s an ok read, but the protagonist of the piece, Canon Daniel Clement, is probably the poorest excuse for an amateur sleuth that I’ve come across in some time… Quite frankly, he’s a bore!
Overall: A slow-paced, English village cosy replete with all the usual suspects and settings.
I’m not sure what market this was written for or if it was just a vanity exercise to demonstrate the authors classical knowledge/education but I find it boring having to wade through this tedious verbiage. I can’t imagine many would find this pleasurable.
Where was the joy? The colour in the characters, the tension?
What a missed opportunity. Please write another but in language that brings the characters, interaction and plot to life.
So they memorably jump off the page - and most importantly- brings something of or from yourself.