Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review: 'The Hunted Hare' by Fay Sampson

✰✰✰ This new series by Fay Sampson features photographer Aidan Davison, his terminally ill wife, Jenny, and their mischievous daughter Melangell. Many years prior, the couple had collaborated on a book about the mystical Pennant Melangell; Jenny, a writer, captured the magic with words while Aidan captured it in photographs. The couple has now returned to St. Melangell's hoping to recapture a bit of their past and share the magic of the place with their daughter, who was named after the saint. However, there is another reason for their visit. Many flock to St. Melangell’s for spiritual and perhaps physical healing. Jenny is no exception; she has incurable cancer with just months to live.

Seeking solitude and peace, the family settles into the fictional House of the Hare. While there are few guests, peace and quiet eludes them as a man is murdered in broad daylight. Instead of the peaceful atmosphere they had wished for, the Davisons suddenly find themselves at the center of a murder investigation. As the police continue questioning Jenny, who may hold an important clue, the couple's strained relationship becomes even more of a struggle. Additionally, the stress of the investigation begins to take its toll on Jenny's fragile body. It's a race against time as Jenny tries to remember something important before someone else is hurt. The Hunted Hare includes plenty of suspects, a few unsavory characters, and lots of twists and turns to keep readers guessing until the end.

The Bottom Line: The first book in the Aidan Mysteries series was slow to start, but eventually reeled me in. In this mystery, author Fay Sampson also explores the theme of faith as Jenny faces her mortality. However, Jenny's battle with cancer was not depressing; instead, Jenny seeks peace and acceptance.

While the setting of St. Melangell's is fascinating and the mystery is enjoyable, I felt the characters fell flat. Also, the writing style incorporates simple sentences and plentiful questions. There are even a few sentence fragments mixed in at times. Here is an example, "He [Aidan] felt a sickening fear. Was he to lose everything now? Jenny? His instinct for photography? What would there be left to make life worth living?" (p. 173)

Overall, this was an average effort that sometimes felt more like a draft than a finished product. I hope that the characters are more fully developed in future installments. Nevertheless, readers of cozy mysteries and Christian fiction may want to give it a try. Note: For those interested in the real St. Melangell's Church, be sure to check out the website.

Details: The Hunted Hare (The Aidan Mysteries) by Fay Sampson. Paperback published by Monarch Books in 2012. 288 p. ISBN: 978-0-85721-204-7 Note: I received a complimentary copy from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible by the Early Reviewer program at LibraryThing.

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