Guest Laura Walker #giveaway

Edith here, welcoming Laura Walker with Hope, Faith, and a Corpse, her first clerical mystery! I had a chance to read this book early, and here’s what I had to say:

Walker tells a engaging tale of new Pastor Hope Taylor, who manages to find a body in the Epsicopal chapel her first day on the job. This kind and curious sleuth, a widow with a vast knowledge of old movies and songs, gets to know the personalities in the northern California town of Apple Springs even as she seeks to uncover who murdered the church elder. The author’s humor engages, the twists and turns in the mystery intrigue – including when Hope discovers an old human skeleton in her back yard – and the resolution will both surprise and satisfy any reader who loves a good cozy. 

Here’s the blurb:

Hope Taylor arrives in Apple Springs to start her new life as the first female pastor of Faith Chapel Episcopal Church. But where is Father Christopher? The kindly old rector who hired Pastor Hope was supposed to meet her upon her arrival, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Hope goes looking for her boss but finds church elder Stanley King instead—his skull crushed by a fallen burial urn. The last time Hope had seen Stanley, he had shouted drunkenly that she would preach at Faith Chapel over his dead body. The new pastor is now the prime suspect in Stanley’s murder. With her black Lab Bogie’s four-footed assistance, Hope is determined to find the real killer and clear her name…even if it will require a bit of divine intervention.

Go for it, Laura!

Happy 2021 everyone, and Happy Book Birthday to me! I’m delighted to be back with the Wickeds discussing Hope, Faith, and a Corpse, the first in a new series (Faith Chapel Mysteries) releasing TODAY. Pastor Hope Taylor is a widowed 42-year-old Episcopal priest—the first woman priest in Faith Chapel’s 160-year-old history, which doesn’t set well with some of the old-timers in church. Hope loves old movies and frequently quotes from them. Early on while talking to one of her parishioners, Pastor Hope emulates Lauren Bacall’s sultry tone as she says that famous line from To Have and Have Not: “You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”

Weaving in Pastor Hope’s love of old movies came naturally—I’ve loved old movies since my father introduced them to me when I was a little girl. Dad used to tell me bits of trivia about the stars as we watched those classic films. Like the fact that Alan Ladd, hero of the classic Western Shane, was so short he had to stand on a box to kiss his leading ladies, and that Betty Grable, the 1940s musical star and pin-up queen of World War II had her legs insured for a million dollars. (Definitely a different time.) As a result of this movie classics education, I am now the queen of Silver Screen Trivial Pursuit, which I play with friends every year on my birthday. I’m only allowed to play it on my birthday though. No one wants to be obnoxious.

At the end of Hope, Faith, and a Corpse, I’ve included a list of Pastor Hope’s Top Ten favorite old movies she’d take with her on a desert island. (I actually included eleven—too hard to narrow it down to just ten.) Three of Hope’s favorites (and mine) are:

            Casablanca

            The Best Years of Our Lives

            Born Yesterday

I know it’s a cliché to list Casablanca, but this star-crossed love story with its themes of nobility, honor, and sacrifice is timeless. I dare you not to be moved when Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) the hero of the French resistance, leads the denizens of Rick’s nightclub in singing “La Marseillase” to drown out the Nazis. Always gives me chills.

World War II is my favorite time period, so The Best Years of Our Lives, the forties classic starring Fredric March of three returning veterans having trouble readjusting to life back home after the war definitely made the list. Harold Russell, a real WWII veteran who lost both hands during the war and had to wear prosthetic hooks as a result, won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his sensitive portrayal of disabled small-town boy Homer. I ugly-cry every time at the scene where Homer’s loving fiancée Wilma (whom he’d tried to reject so she wouldn’t be saddled with him and his disability) says, “I love you and I’m never going to leave you . . . never.” Then she helps Homer into his bed, tucks him in, and kisses him goodnight. Talk about tearjerker.

In need of some laughter after these two war-related dramas, Born Yesterday, a modern-day Pygmalion story from 1950 starring the irrepressible and hilarious Judy Holliday as “dumb blonde” mobster’s moll Billie Dawn is a funny, overlooked gem. Judy beat out Bette Davis in All About Eve and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard to win the Best Actress Oscar for this delightful comedy that also stars William Holden. Be still my heart.

Readers: what about you? What’s your favorite Silver Screen classic? For a chance to win a copy of Hope, Faith, and a Corpse, please leave a comment on your favorite “old” movie (before 1975.) Since it’s tough to narrow it down to one, you can pick up to three.

Finally, I’d like to invite you all to my virtual launch tomorrow (Wed., Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. PT). Hope you can stop by as I talk to my friends and fellow authors Catriona McPherson and Eileen Rendahl about my first clerical mystery.

You’ll need to register in advance here. Thanks! I hope to see you there. And thank you, Edith and the rest of the Wickeds gang for having me back again. It’s always fun to be a guest of this great group.

Laura Jensen Walker has loved mysteries ever since she read Trixie Belden in the fourth grade. A former journalist and the author of several books, including Murder Most Sweet, her first cozy, Laura lives in Northern California where she sings in the choir of her neighborhood Episcopal church and plays Silver Screen Trivial Pursuit once a year. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Laura loves hearing from readers. You can connect with her through www.laurajensenwalker.com, on Twitter @LauraJensenWal1 or Facebook.

79 Thoughts

  1. I think my all time favorite old movie is Rebecca. I’ve seen it so many times, along with reading it over and over (tho’ they end differently. ). This new series sounds like a winner. I would like to be one, too!

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    1. I LOVE Rebecca! Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier were fabulous. And that ending! I saw the new series too with Lily James, and liked it overall, except for the ending, but I won’t spoil if for you–watch and decide 🙂 Good luck!

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  2. I like Lilies of the Field with Sidney Poitier. There are a few others but this one just got to me. Happy book birthday to you and thank you for the chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

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    1. Love, love, LOVE Lilies of the Field! I mean Sidney Poitier? What’s not to love? I first saw it as a little girl, and afterwards our entire family went around the house singing, ‘A-a-a-men, A-a-a-men, A-a-men, Amen, Amen!” 🙂

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  3. Growing up with a mother who loved the movies that are now considered “classic”, I saw a lot of those movies as a kid.

    It’s definitely hard to choose just a single film so I’m going to pick the allowed three.

    The first is Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. The first time I saw it, I thought it was just an amazing movie.

    My second is my Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. Funny how someone who is completely unromantic could love a pure romance film.

    My third choice is Singing In The Rain with Gene Kelly. I just love that classic scene with the title song.

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      1. Oops, sorry Barbara, I overlooked your reply earlier today. I remember seeing Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? on TV when I was 14 and loving it. Singing in the Rain is a perennial favorite.

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    1. I agree, Jay, it is hard to pick just a single film! And I love all the ones you’ve selected. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with the incomparable Tracy and Hepburn left a lasting impression on me when I first saw it as a girl. I’ve always adored Sabrina–how can you not? Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, and the irrepressible and lovely Audrey Hepburn. Although I’ve never been a designer girl or style maven, I will never forget my first sight of that Givenchy ball gown she wore to the Larrabee’s party–absolutely stunning! As for Singing in the Rain? Best. Movie. Musical. Ever. Gene Kelly, be still my heart.

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  4. There are so many, but I will definitely stop channel surfing for “Inherit the Wind” with Frederic March and Spencer Tracy, or “12 Angry Men” with Henry Fonda and a cast of others.

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    1. Liz, those are both excellent dramas. Spencer Tracy was absolutely riveting in “Inherit the Wind.” His decency and nobility emanated off the screen and struck a deep chord within me Same with Henry Fonda in “12 Angry Men.”

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    1. Maria, I wouldn’t take a shower for months after the first time I saw Psycho! (Not to worry, I took baths.) I think I had nightmares too. Definitely chilling. Hitchcock was a master. Thanks for the congrats–I’m thrilled Hope, Faith, & a Corpse is finally here–I had so much fun writing it!

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    1. So funny! “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby.” Did you know that Christopher Reeve based his Clark Kent character in the Superman movies on Cary Grant’s David in Bringing up Baby?

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  5. To me you can’t talk old movies without listing “The Wizard of Oz”, “Gone With The Wind” and the Christmas favorite “It’s A Wonderful Life” which everyone knows about and watches over and over. I’d have to add to that list with “The Best Years of Our Lives”. Maybe it’s the army brat in me coming out, but always enjoy watching this movie. ”
    Modern Times” is always a good picker upper and a chuckle or two.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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    1. Kay, I’m right there with you on those three classics. (We even named our dog Mellie after ‘Miss Mellie’ in “Gone with the Wind.” As for “The Best Years of Our Lives?” One of my favorite movies ever. So powerful. (And all the more so since I was in the Air Force.)

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    1. Thanks, Sherry! Funny Face is fabulous–Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Paris, Gershwin, and all those amazing clothes? What’s not to love? In fact, I think it’s time for another viewing. As for The African Queen? Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Enough said. (Okay, I lied. Favorite line? “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put into this world to rise above.” )

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    1. Thanks, Dru. I’m excited HOPE is finally out! (This Faith Chapel Mystery debut was actually the first cozy I wrote, followed by Murder Most Sweet, but my publisher decided to introduce me to the mystery world with MMS. Fine by me–I’m just happy to be published 🙂 As for your movie selections, I think we’re kindred old movie spirits–I love every one of those movies. Including Hello Dolly. Although critics over the years have drubbed it and Walter Matthau hated working with Streisand–issues with strong women, perhaps?–I loved it. Barbra was stunning and at the peak of her singing powers. “Before the Parade Passes By” gives me chills every time and when she enters the Harmonia Gardens in that gold dress? Wow. Now that’s what you call a show stopping number! (the duet portion with Louis Armstrong in what would be his final movie is perfection.)

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  6. Happy book birthday! I’ve found a new series 🙂

    You have chosen fertile ground for mystery and murder. As a former vestry secretary, I know whereof I speak.

    My parents were “old movie” aficionados. My mother was the font of trivia in my house and she, too, spoke of the Alan Ladd box. My all-time favorite wouldn’t qualify by my parent’s definition, but it’s Auntie Mame, followed by To Have and Have Not, and It’s A Wonderful Life, In a Lonely Place and Vertigo.

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    1. Yay! Thanks, Kait. Vestry secretaries know all. I LOVE Auntie Mame. There’s no one like Rosalind Russell. “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” The chemistry between Bogie and Bacall fairly shimmers off the screen in To Have and Have Not. Hard to believe it was Lauren Bacall’s first movie. (Even harder to believe she was 19 when she filmed it!) You named a movie I haven’t seen–In a Lonely Place. I looked it up on IMDB and see that it stars Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, so it’s definitely on my list now–thanks! (Years ago in my early twenties when I lived in a brownstone in Cleveland with a group of actors and dancers, my roommate John came home after seeing Vertigo for the first time and said “You look like Kim Novak in this movie when she was a brunette!” Best. Compliment. Ever.)

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  7. I like the old Universal black and white horror movies. They used to show them on tv all the time when ?I was a kid

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Sandy. I must admit I’ve never been big on horror movies in general, but I did like the old black-and-white Frankenstein, Dracula, and of course Creature from the Black Lagoon. (Although the latter did give me nightmares as a kid. I’m sure if I watched it now I’d probably laugh.)

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  8. This is a must get book for me and right up my alley with the female pastor of the Episcopal church which reminds me of the on I attend who had a female pastor whose first name was Hope, so I can read this book and imagine her as the MC.

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    1. Bobbie, please tell me your Pastor Hope didn’t live in a small town in Northern California 🙂 I joined my neighborhood Episcopal church about a decade ago and when I walked in and saw my first woman priest (and heard her preach) I knew it was the place for me.

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      1. no, it was in Florida and my first experience with a woman in the pulpit. I liked her style (Sort of like my grandfather keeping the sermon to 5 min.) and attended there until she moved to a bigger parrish.

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    1. Thanks, Barbara. I love The Philadelphia Story too–“Oh, C.K. Dexter Ha-a-ay-ven!” Katharine Hepburn has always been one of my favorite actresses. Pair her with Cary Grant, add in some Jimmy Stewart and you have the recipe for a perfect movie. I’ve never heard of The Solid Gold Cadillac, however. Who’s in that? I’ll have to look it up.

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  9. When I think of classic movies I remember the scores since my family loved to go see musicals. I always enjoyed the Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire movies..so many of them and what amazing dancing. Movies like Guys and Dolls, Gigi, and Anchors Aweigh bring their songs to my mind. And, since I was on a date when I saw it I really remember the classic comedy/musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Your book sounds like a fun read, best of luck to you!

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    1. Thanks, Judy. My family loved musicals too. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire were sheer magic together–Top Hat is a favorite. (I’ll never forget that ostrich feather dress she wore in “Cheek to Cheek”.) I too love Anchors Aweigh–how can you go wrong with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra?

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  10. I do love a lot of classics from the 30’s & 40’s, but what came to mind are two I love but haven’t seen in quite a while – Harold and Maude & David and Lisa. Both are very thought-provoking! The book sounds delightful, I look forward to getting to know the movie loving pastor.

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    1. Harold and Maude is fabulous! Definitely thought-provoking. I remember seeing it in the theater when I was in high school. I’ve never seen David and Lisa, but have heard of it; will need to add that to my list. Thanks for your kind words, Judith, I hope you like Pastor Hope!

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  11. I’ve never seen Born Yesterday. Mine would be . . . White Christmas, The Odd Couple, and Pillow Talk. See you tomorrow, Laura.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Catriona. White Christmas is my favorite Christmas movie. I could watch “The Best Things Happen While We’re Dancing” over and over again. Musical movies-nerd that I was (am), I sang “Sisters, Sisters” with my best friend as a freshman in the high school talent show (while my cool rocker classmates were listening to Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Jethro Tull.) Pillow Talk is tied with Please Don’t Eat the Daisies as my favorite Doris Day comedy. (Although I do love me some Calamity Jane.) Looking forward to tomorrow night’s virtual launch.

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    1. I love them too. Many folks aren’t familiar with Holiday Inn and don’t realize that’s the first time Bing sang “White Christmas” in a movie.

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    1. Penny Serenade is such a lovely, sentimental (in a good way) movie. I cry every time I watch it. And Doctor Zhivago is fabulous, but heartbreaking. The scene when he sees Lara from the trolley!

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  12. Congrats!!! Some of my favorite classics are..North by Northwest (1959), Vertigo (1958), Pyscho (1960). Of course there are many, many more, but these are in my top 10. Stay safe & have a good day everyone!

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    1. Thanks! North by Northwest is one of my favorite Hitchcock films. I also love Rear Window, Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt, Marnie, Notorious (with a fabulous Ingrid Bergman) and To Catch a Thief. I like Vertigo too, but not as much as some of his others. The one Hitchcock I don’t like is Spellbound. I adore Gregory Peck, but that just didn’t work for me.

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    1. Monica, I’m a big musicals fan too and agree completely with your “anything Fred Astaire.” No one like Astaire.

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    1. LOVE An Affair to Remember. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr were sublime. “It’s nobody’s fault but my own! I was looking up…it was the nearest thing to heaven! You were there…”

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    1. Thanks, Alicia. I never saw the old Mummy, but loved the remake with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz (although I’m a squeamish so had to look away a few times.I also liked the ’30s Dracula and Frankenstein.

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      1. I loved that version too. I saw that first, actually, and it was really neat to see how the newer movie took from the original horror but went in a different direction as an adventure movie. I’d wanted to show dad the newer one but unfortunately we didn’t get to it.

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    1. Edith, somehow I missed Zefirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. I know it’s supposed to be fabulous and gorgeous, so maybe I’ll get to it one of these days. I loved Shirley Temple movies too and have watched the a bit more recently than childhood–I introduced my great niece to them about a decade ago. (It was tough getting her to agree to watch a b&w movie at first, but once she did, she was mesmerized.)

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    1. Great movie. Great man–Atticus Finch. (I named my character Teddie’s first dog–since passed over the Rainbow Bridge–Atticus.) Great actor too. Gregory Peck. Love him.

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    1. Darn. Just lost my reply to you, Sherry when I switched over to my phone. I nearly spit out my drink at the placement of Rosemary’s baby between Mary Poppins & The Sound of Music! 🙂 Thanks for your kind words about Hope. It’s been getting a good reception so far—fingers crossed that continues.

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  13. I like musicals like the Fred Astaire ones and Singing in the Rain. I remember enjoying the Bing Crosby/ Bob Hope Road pictures. Don’t know if I would still like them now. The patty cake routine was funny. I don’t re-watch much. Stay safe and well.

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  14. Oooh, I love old movies too. Yes, Best Years of Our Lives is a great favorite. Others, let’s see, Jezebel killed me the 1st time I saw it. North Ten Frederick, the best movie I think Gary Cooper ever made. I’ve been trying to find a copy for years. Down to the 3rd already, Oh dear…. Beau Geste, Coop again. The whole Vikings funeral thing enthralled my young imagination. There are so many more… Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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    1. Catherine, Jezebel killed me when I saw it for the first time too (a few years ago.) That ending. Never hear of North Ten Frederick, but I saw Beau Geste many years ago as a kid, if I remember right. Will need to rewatch as I don’t remember much. The Coop films that stand out strongest in my memory are Sergeant York, High Noon, and Meet John Doe.

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  15. I grew up with a father that worked his way up from usher to doorman to assistant manager and to district manager of 4 theatres in South Texas. He started in 1930 and worked there through 1962 and then became postmaster in our hometown, so I have show business in my blood. It bleeds movies and real stars. Favorites are the Thin Man series of 6 movies and any Humphrey Bogart ones like “Casablanca” and “The Maltese Falcon.” Anything with the Duke and Gable, but I am going over. It is hard for me to come up with three but those would be the top ones… I even saw “Casablanca” at the theatre on the big screen. Blown away.

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    1. Madeline, what a great upbringing you had! I love that line about your blood bleeding movies and real stars. Did I understand correctly? Are you saying you saw Casablanca on the silver screen when it first released in 1942? If so, WOW! How amazing that must have been!

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