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Tuesday 12 August 2014

‘Foolish Ways’ by D M Greenwood

Published by Ostara Publishing, 2013.
(First published 1999)

The cover of this book describes it as Clerical Crime which is an interesting category!  This series about Theodora Braithwaite was previously published from 1991 to 1999 and there are 8 previous investigations covered before this reprinted copy.  I have read some of the earlier ones and I don't think that reading them in order is important.  Theodora is a deacon of the Church of England who uses her knowledge of human behaviour and her connections within the Church to assist the police with their work when murder happens in relation to Anglicans.  In this book she attends a conference of Church officials and lay people which is held in November in an unappealing holiday camp in the fens - the camp is called Bolly's Jolly Holiday Homes.

D M Greenwood is a clever writer who is obviously closely involved in the Anglican Church and who knows all the quirks of churchly behaviour.  She enjoys poking fun at the incongruity of the holiday camp with the Church attendees.  She is biting about some characters like the Bishop who uses management speak and about whom, as she puts it, 'it was rumoured that the Bishop did not want particular changes in the Church, just changes.'  She also describes with affection other attendees at the Conference.

As they gather in Highcliffe, East Anglia, to consider 'the Millennium Message'  the shocking discovery is made of the body of one of the delegates in a washing machine.  He has been stabbed.  Since no-one has a bad word to say about him what reason could there be for his murder?  Theodora is acquainted with the investigating police officer and he finds her insights into Anglican ideas and practices very helpful.  She, indeed, reaches the solution of the death and other shenanigans before the Superintendent.

The mystery is clever and well developed but some of the most interesting parts of the book consider religious ideas and give a novel of social comment.
Reviewer: Jennifer S Palmer
As I wrote earlier this is the 9th in a series and has been reprinted.

Dr Diane M Greenwood came originally from Norfolk in England. She took a first degree in classics at Oxford University, then as a mature student, a second degree in theology at London University. She taught at various schools before working for the diocese of Rochester. She retired as diocesan director of education for the diocese of Rochester in 2004.
She has been described  as "a classics teacher of terrifying erudition and eccentricity".  Between 1991 and 1999 she published nine books featuring Deaconess Theodora Braithwaite (in her thirties).  D M Greenwood was last heard of living in Greenwich with her lurcher.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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