Death of a Clergyman is the first book in the Miss Mary Investigates series and can be read as a standalone story, however, I highly recommend starting by its prequel, The Mystery of the Missing Heiress, which is a small novella (currently free) that introduces to us an original character who will be crucial in Death of a Clergyman. I’ve read this prequel and absolutely loved not only the main character but also the writing style, and how the author was able to build the plot, so my expectations towards Death of a Clergyman were very high.
In Death of a Clergyman Mr. Collins is found dead and Elizabeth is accused of his murder. When Mr. Darcy hears the news, he immediately reaches out to Alexander Lyons, the private investigator we are introduced to in the novella, and hires him to investigate the murder of Mr. Collins and prove Elizabeth’s innocence. Both Mr. Darcy and Lyons travel to Hertfordshire with the objective of helping Elizabeth, but they are not the only ones who are focused on finding the real criminal. Miss Mary, the sister no one seems to remember exists, is the perfect ally to solve this crime because she sees and hears much more than people ever stop to consider. Her discreet personality along with an intelligence not many know of and a very curious nature, will gain Lyons respect and after a rough beginning, they will pair up to follow all the clues.
The initial approach to Mary and how she is able to obtain most of her intel about the crime was very interesting. The author did Mary credit and I truly liked her personality on this story. Plus, I truly liked having her as a main character in a novel that is more of a mystery than a romance. In fact, I was expecting to see more romance between Mary and Lyons, but I guess that is waiting for me in the next novel: Death in Highbury. I did like their relationship, and how it grew, so it will be very nice to see it evolve a bit more in the next novel.
Apart from Mary’s character and the approach the author had towards her, I also loved to see Elizabeth and Darcy present in this book. Do not be fooled by the idea that this is a secondary character story, it is true that Mary is the main character but there are many Darcy and Elizabeth scenes present on this book, including a proposal! Not only did I like to have them as an active part in this story, especially Darcy, but also to see all their encounters from a third party perspective. That is very rare as we usually see books from either Elizabeth or Darcy’s point of view, and here we witness the scenes from Mary or Lyons eyes, and that neutrality was super interesting.
I liked to see how all the pieces came together to form the puzzle that was Mr. Collins death and I only started realizing who the guilty party was towards the end. For me, the enthusiasm was not to find out who did it, but to follow Mary and Lyons investigations and to trail their line of thought. I was happy to see how their minds started working as one towards the end, which is another indicator that the next story will be quite interesting.
Summing up, Death of a Clergyman is a curious mystery that gives Mary Bennet the attention she deserves. If you like this character, you will certainly like this book, and if you do not, you should give it a try, you may be surprised.
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