The Rev. Annabelle Dixon, vicar at the church in Upton St. Mary in Cornwall, manages to get herself involved in more criminal investigations than might be expected for a member of the Anglican clergy. She finds herself in the right place at the right time, or perhaps it’s more of a case of the wrong place at the wrong time.
A group – some in the village call it a cult – has moved into one of the outlying properties. It calls itself the Brotherhood of St. Petrie (puzzled, Annabelle wonders out loud if he could be a minor saint). Members of the small group make various things or provide services like blacksmithing, and they do seem relatively harmless. Their leader is charming and rather charismatic, as Annabelle finds when she visits.
One visit becomes rather extended; she’s invited to participate in something that resembles a cross between howling at the moon and a frolic in the forest. It’s odd behavior but appears rather harmless fun. When she’s had enough, Annabelle leaves to walk to her car – and stumbles over the body of the group’s leader. He’s been shot with a bolt gun.
Detective Inspector Mike Nicholls would usually be the officer in charge, but he’s at a training session. DI Nicholls is also Annabelle’s romantic interest, but she’s wondering if the relationship is going anywhere; at best, she thinks, it’s stalled. The officer in charge is rather pompous and lights almost immediately upon a suspect. And the assisting officer is a woman who has a definite love interest in DI Nicholls, and she has little if any use for Annabelle.
What Annabelle comes to learn is that almost every member of the group had a possible motive for killing their leader. And he turns out not to be the kind, charming man everyone thinks he is.
Killer at the Cult by Alison Golden is the latest installment in the Annabelle Dixon series. Officially, it’s classified as a “cozy” mystery, which means the violence is limited and generally off-stage and there’s little or no graphic content (in other words, you’d recommend it to your mother or grandmother without question).
Golden has three mystery and suspense series involving signature detectives. The Diana Hunter series is set in Vancouver; the series includes Hunted, Snatched, Stolen, Chopped, and Exposed. The Rev. Annabelle Dixon series is set in Cornwall. And the Inspector David Graham series is set on Jersey, one of the Channel Islands. Golden also includes recipes mentioned in the books at the end of the Anabelle Dixon stories. Raised in Bedfordshire, England, Golden now lives in the San Francisco area.
The Annabelle Dixon mysteries are light, fun reads, and Killer at the Cult faithfully follows its predecessors. Aside from identifying the murderer, the additional question the story asks is, will DI Nicholls do something and reignite the romance with the good reverend?