The Keeper of Secrets

The Keeper of Secrets by Judith Cutler.  For those of you who prefer a whole lot of character development and background before the main mystery gets going, then Cutler will certainly satisfy your needs.  This debut mystery is set in 1810 Warwickshire and features a young parson, Tobias Campion, in his first assignment since leaving behind the comfortable life of his upper-class English family.  He is befriended by the local doctor and justice of the peace, Edmund Hansard, and smitten by one of the maids at his patron’s manor.  Cutler spends the first half of the book introducing the many characters that make up the parish of Moreton Priory, from the poor living in hovels by the river to manor lords and ladies and their servants.  Campion and Hansard work well together to solve the mysteries of the parish as the pace of action picks up in the second half.  I like strong secondary characters and the time that Cutler spends developing Mrs. Beckles, the manor’s housekeeper, Jem, the parson’s groom, and others is well spent in preparation for future volumes in this series.  Readers who enjoyed Catherine Shaw’s Riddle of the River or Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Sanctuary will find pleasure in this book as well.

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