WHO KILLED THE CURATE?
It's Christmas 1937 and the small English village of Glanville is gearing up for the festivities. Central to the villages activities is Lady Lupin, the lovely scatterbrained wife of Andrew, vicar of St. Marks Parish. Lady Lupin, having come from a world of wealth and entitlement, is eager to fit in as the vicar's wife but is totally bewildered by the Girl Guides, the Mothers' Union, and all the other parish groups the ladies of the parish expect her to lead. Andrew, meanwhile, quietly smiles and assures Lady Lupin (known as Loops to her friends) she's doing quite well, occasionally giving her a little nudge in the right direction.
When Andrew's curate, Charles, is found dead, it quickly becomes apparent that he was poisoned. Who could have done such a thing and why? Was it in the fish served at Loops' table the night before? Why was Charles wandering around in her house? Could his obsession with foreign missions have anything to do with his death? Surely, Loops thinks, the guilty party couldn't be Diana, author of children's stories and mysteries, even though her recent activities have been rather suspicious. Loops enlists her houseguests to help her solve the murder. Perhaps the biggest problem is that all the potential suspects seem so likable, much more so than the victim. Loops announces that she'll help the murderer escape if he or she will only confess to the dastardly deed.
Lady Lupin is a complete delight, one of the best cozy characters I've ever encountered. Watching her navigate the pitfalls of being the vicar's wife in a small village is hilarious, especially since she's usually oblivious to what's really going on. Like many such addlepated people, though, there is much more to Loops than meets the eye.
First published in 1944, this is the first of a series of four mysteries featuring Lady Lupin. I will be looking forward with great anticipation to the remaining three entries and could only wish that Joan Coggins had written many more.
©2002 and beyond by Lelia Taylor. Not to be used without permission by anyone except the specific author being reviewed.