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The Moonlit Door
Nick Lawrence #3
Deryn Lake

Severn House
March 1, 2015/ ISBN 978-0727884374
Mystery / British / Traditional / Lakehurst, England / Contemporary

Reviewed by LJ Roberts


First Sentence: It was an ancient and attractive custom, one enjoyed by music-lovers and the stout-hearted but detested by those who were trying to get ‘a decentngith’s kip’, as Jack Boggis, the local misery, put it.

Reverend Nick Lawrence has organized a Medieval Fair to celebrate May Day, complete with Morris Dancers, archery lessons and a maypole. What isn’t planned is finding the body of a young orphan impaled by an arrow and secured to the maypole via its bright-colored ribbons. On a personal note, it was delightful that the madrigal referenced at the beginning of the story is one I sang years ago and still remember.

Ms. Lake created a delightful cast of non-stereotypical characters. The vicar and subject to both questions of faith and desires, in a good way, of the flesh, but a true Anglican vicar nonetheless, …”I suppose if Christ came and sat on the bench beside you, you would accuse him of being an illegal immigrant.” The relationship between Det. Tennant and his bagman, Mark Potter, is wonderful. Daft Dickie, an autistic man with a horrible past, is a character you don’t know whether to pity or fear. There’s even the Rectory ghost, William.

Although the protagonist is a vicar, do not mistake this for a comfortable, English cozy. Lake addresses all sides of human nature, and she does it well. If anything, you might think of it as a dark Midsomer Murder. The history and mythology of the old ways and legends is woven skillfully into the story.

The Moonlit Door is, in the end, a very good mystery which touches on of the best and worst of humanity.

Reviewed 2015