Daily Review: A Body in the Belfry by J.B. Hawker
February 25, 2020
If you pray for wisdom or patience, God will give you plenty of memorable learning experiences while answering those prayers.
A low moan penetrated Merrill’s illness-and-antihistamine-befogged dreams, pulling her from a deep sleep. Squinting through sleep-glazed eyes at the unfamiliar room, she recalled where she was. The bedroom walls of her new home seemed to be vibrating with the deep bellow of a fog-horn. When high-pitched whines and squeals followed the low rumble, she blinked and sat up in alarm.
Small town secrets can lead to big trouble.
When Reverend Merrillanne Bishop accepts the leadership of the First Baptist Church in the picturesque seaside community of Bannoch, Oregon, she doesn’t know what to expect. Not everybody is pleased with the idea of a female pastor, but Merrill is determined to prove to everybody—including herself—that she belongs in the pulpit.
Merrill has a talent for seeing the good in even the worst situations and soon finds friends. When she meets Peter, a Seattle reporter offering her more than friendship, life seems sweet. But the bliss of romantic moonlit walks and seaside bonfires withers one stormy night when Merrill discovers a body in her church’s bell tower.
As the frightening discoveries continue, Merrill struggles to comfort her flock, knowing full-well one of them could be a killer.
By Jane Reads
Let me tell you about a really good book — A Body in the Belfry by J.B. Hawker. A Body in the Belfry is the second book in The First Ladies Club Mystery series, following book one, The First Ladies Club, also really good.
In the prologue of A Body in the Belfry, the reader learns how the body in the belfry came to be — how the victim succumbed to the unknown assailant and ended up at the end of a rope — how, but not why. The prologue hooked me, and I remained engrossed in the storylines until the end. I was so caught up that I didn’t want to put it down, and finished it in two days.
The main character, and my favorite, is the Reverend Doctor Indigo Merrillanne Bishop. Yes, Indigo. Her two brothers are named Sage and Wolf. Their parents were going through a hippie phase at the time. She goes by Merrill now.
Other primary characters are the ones in the First Ladies Club, “a support group for pastors’ wives” who “also do community service projects.” The various first ladies are unique, realistic, likable, and well-rounded. They are friendly and welcoming to Merrill, and she is very thankful for their support.
Author J.B. Hawker has created a very believable world of Bannoch, Oregon. She describes it with just the right amount of detail so that I can picture it — and want to visit there. The citizens of Bannoch are all three-dimensional and realistic, including the secondary characters.
I liked how everything — all of the sub-plots — comes together at the end. You won’t want to miss the thrilling climax! I really love that part, with its edge-of-your-seat excitement.
A Body in the Belfry is a fast-paced and enjoyable read. After finishing the book in two days, I was a little sad to leave the First Ladies Club that I have grown to love.
By Andrea L. Stoeckel
“It is a common joke among Christians that if you pray for wisdom or patience, God will give you plenty of memorable learning experiences in answering those prayers”.
The Rev. Dr. Indigo Merillanne Bishop has come to Bannoch to lead a new, small Baptist flock. And not everyone is happy in this tiny town where change comes slowly. Her church has divided over “situations” many times in the past, and the recent is meeting in the Annex’ Social Hall.
However, the “parsonage,” an underused and rather shabby apartment attached to the church building, is where Merill sets up her household. And as she gets to know her parish, she discovers a series of “unfortunate events” in the deaths of two people from Portland that happened in the church proper.
The question is, neither person had any connection to the church so why was one found hanging in the belfry, and the second dead in the baptistry?
Interwoven into this mystery is the arrival of her nephew, Ryan, who has come to live with her after his missionary parents are killed.
A new parish, a fairly uncomfortable reaction from some. Is she truly meant to lead this flock?
As a retired Transitional Minister who served churches often not ready for, but unable to compensate a male minister ( and his family), I can empathize with both sides of that dilemma. It is well known the significant hurdles change can bring. Add murders to the equation and you get an interesting melange such that answers can hide in plain sight.
This is an awesome book with great characters. Worth seeking out!
Please click HERE to find A Body in the Belfry by J.B. Hawker.