Monday, January 21, 2019

Killer at the Cult (Reverend Annabelle Dixon #6), by Alison Golden

Alison Golden, January 2019

Reverend Annabelle Dixon is frustrated over her apparently stalled relationship with Inspector Mike Nicholls, and anyway, he's off at a police professional development training conference. While he's gone, she has sworn off sweets, and is concentrating on getting the children of her congregation ready for their performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

But something odd is going on in her little village. New people have appeared in the village, living in a large house that's been empty for years, and selling flowers, produce, and crafts. And they keep trying to talk to people about their beliefs--veganism, and the rituals of St. Petrie and Lord Darthamort. Her flock is very disturbed, fearing they may be a dangerous cult. Annabelle isn't at all convinced of that, but figures she should check them out. She drops by for a visit, is invited to stay for dinner--and afterwards is persuaded to stay for their bonfire and ritual. The ritual involves the men donning animal costumes and chasing the women, and she is soon running through the woods around the house--where she trips over a dead body.
Of course there is no chance that Annabelle won't conduct her own investigation. This is especially true after Chief Inspector Ainslie, handling the case himself in the absence of Inspector Nicholls, quickly settles on a suspect Annabelle finds unlikely. As she becomes convinced the man is being railroaded, she has to keep poking around--as the situation gets stranger and stranger.

At the same time, the children of the village are turning up with an unlikely number of injuries, all seemingly related to ponies, animals the villagers generally know very well and don't make so many mistakes with.

Chief Inspector Ainslie is set on his suspect and not interested in contrary facts Annabelle finds, Philippa her church secretary and housekeeper is being judgy about her lack of judginess about the cult members, her cat needs her annual trip to the vet which she always resists, and the children are a challenge to keep on track with preparations for the play.

And then Mike makes a surprise visit, ducking out of a couple of his conference sessions to lure her into a walk with their dogs. Their relationship might not be quite that stalled after all!

The tone here is light and friendly, with gentle humor. At no point is anyone ever stupid for the sake of the plot. It's just a lot of fun.


I received a free electronic galley of this book from the author, and bought it as soon as available. I'm reviewing it voluntarily.

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