Norfolk Christian author writes murder mystery
2011: A Norfolk Christian author has recently published her latest novel, a murder mystery set in rural Norfolk centring on a rector who has taken over some country parishes where the people aren’t quite so welcoming as she had hoped.
by Helen Baldry
Vengeance Lies in Wait by Janice B Scott was published in September this year and is the latest in a series focusing on the fictional character Revd Polly Hewitt.
When the Revd Polly Hewitt is appointed as rector of four small, country parishes near Norwich in Norfolk, life is not quite as blissfully serene as she had expected.
She soon discovers that someone is out to frighten her away, but who hates her so much, and why?
After a series of unpleasant incidents targeting her, when she takes a village funeral, Polly is horrified to discover an unknown body already occupying the grave.
Disturbing and macabre incidents give an edge to the otherwise comfortable and rather mundane life portrayed of the Church of England. Not familiar with Church of England jargon, I didn’t really find it a barrier to understanding the setting, if anything it made the story realistic with the frustrations of church life laid bare and the clash of different personalities.
I couldn’t decide if I liked the character of Revd Polly Hewitt – I found her at times naive and uppity and in other instances feisty and headstrong. There is a vein of humour in the book, with the invention of characters such as church reader Cheryl with her racy clothes and colourful language. And there’s Oswald Waters, a pernickety minister who is a stickler for tradition and a pillar of the community, yet his own personal turmoil is simmering just beneath the surface.
An issue that was clearly portrayed was the struggle for some members of quiet Norfolk village of Anglesham to accept the arrival of a young female priest – this made me wonder if it was drawn from the author’s own experience of opposition to female clergy.
Janice Scott was ordained as a priest in the Church of England with the first batch of women priests in 1994. Like her protagonist, she worked as rector of six village churches in South Norfolk.
I haven’t read any book like this one; there are familiar sounding place names and even mention of Christian organisations (The Matthew Project) which added a new dimension for a reader from Norfolk.
As to whodunit... clues were dropped throughout the book, sometimes very obvious that I felt sure I was a step ahead and yet I didn’t work it out until all was revealed at the end.
As to looking forward to another book in the series – based in a small Norfolk community with family feuds two-a-penny, church rivalry and gossiping parishioners ...surely there must be more dark secrets for Polly to uncover!
Janice B Scott’s other books in the series are Heaven Spent and Babes and Sucklings. She is now working on her fourth novel in the same series.
Pictured above: Janice with one of her children's books. Janice writes sermons, imaginative children's stories, and intercessory prayers for The Village Shepherd.