The first Turnham Malpas novel from bestselling author Rebecca Shaw.
When Peter Harris arrives in Turnham Malpas as the new rector, he finds the village people welcoming but set in their ways. Yet despite his own weaknesses, and the sadness of his childless wife, he comforts and advises his new parishioners, growing more and more involved with the rural way of life.
Then the whole village is rocked by spiteful trick that goes terribly wrong, and a gruesome murder that points to a killer in its midst. Now, more than ever, Peter's pastoral role is crucial - and yet he is wrestling with his own private hell that may still wreck his own life.
The small, gossipy English village of Turnham Malpas is the real protagonist of this entertaining first novel about life among the mannered, self-conscious British from Easter to Christmas of one year. New to town is handsome married pastor Peter Harris, who soon will react to a rather selfish suicide, figure out who pulled some nasty pranks on the town spinster and solve the murder of a local schoolteacher. The narrative is filled with drama, though the most dramatic writing has less to do with homicide than with the neurosis surrounding so-called ``proper'' behavior. Isn't Suzy Meadows's dress, wonder the townspeople, a bit tight and flashy for a mourning widow? And who will occupy the murdered woman's house now that it's vacant? With understanding and sympathy, English writer Shaw captures the tradition-bound, rural sensibility of people who ordinarily mean well but who have trouble communicating with each other. Sending up the British stereotypes (the repressed spinster, the noble gardener) that Americans often relish, she seems to be writing with Yankee Anglophiles in mind.