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:
The Best Years of Our Lives
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.