Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Becket Factor: Michael David Anthony

There are three books in the Canterbury Cathedral Mysteries; this is the first. They feature a retired intelligence officer, Colonel Richard Harrison, who has given up his job in intelligence to have more time to care for his wife who is disabled. The title of this book comes from the discovery of a tomb that is possibly the last resting place of Thomas Becket. There is a death at the Cathedral, and Harrison's former boss in the intelligence service asks him to investigate surreptitiously. This was the perfect book for me, combining an ecclesiastical background, with a hint of spy fiction.


Coming from a small Methodist church in Birmingham, Alabama, a church setting like this with so many officials was amazing and confusing. The Cathedral has a Dean, a Canon, an Archbishop... and more. This was not the first book I have read about this type of setting recently so I am learning more about that environment. I have a close friend who is Episcopalian and active in his church and he explained the various titles and ranks.

In addition, I found the plot was complex and interesting, which makes sense when politics and history and religion intertwine. What pulled it together for me was Harrison's relationship with his wife, Winnie, and how they were both looking out for each other even when they were at odds on his relationship with his former boss. An extra plus was that  the investigation takes place in the days leading up to Christmas. I always like a book with that setting, and especially when it is peripheral to the mystery.

I don't want to misrepresent this as straight spy fiction, but there is definitely an element of that. If you enjoy books with a clerical setting, I highly recommend this book. And it also would be a good Christmas read.

Moira at Clothes in Books has reviewed this book. In her review of the third book, she says "the daily life of the Cathedral and its school make a convincing and charming background, while still making you realize that such places can be hotbeds of disagreement, not oases of Christian calm and delight. The books look unblinkingly at the problems and future of the Church of England, and the difficulties and sadnesses of rural parishes and the need to close parishes and sell off assets – these decisions are a major theme in the books."


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Publisher:   Felony & Mayhem, 2008 (orig. pub. 1990)
Length:      273 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Series:       Canterbury Cathedral Mysteries #1
Setting:      Canterbury, England, UK
Genre:        Mystery
Source:      I purchased my copy.



14 comments:

  1. Putting this on the Xmas read list 2018!

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    1. I do hope you like it, Nancy. It is not overly Christmassy, just with Christmas as a background. Which I like.

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  2. I do like the sound of this one, Tracy. And I always enjoy seeing the covers on the books that Felony & Mayhem releases. Plus, they are one of the publishers that (I think) re-releases books that have gone out of print. A good thing also.

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    1. I agree about the Felony & Mayhem covers, Kay. Yes, they do seem to reprint both older books and not so old books, and I think they even publish new books, but not sure about that.

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  3. This sounds interesting, Tracy. There is something about that clerical setting, isn't there? And it sounds like a solid plot, too.

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    1. Maybe I enjoy the clerical setting because I have no current religious affiliation, Margot. And I love to learn about how other religions are practiced and affect the daily lives of people. I grew up in a very religious family, but the church structure seemed very simple to me.

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  4. I like the cover and there are elements which appeal to me, but probably not one I'll seek out.

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    1. I agree there are elements you might like, Col, but you have plenty to read without adding this.

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  5. Replies
    1. Great, Mathew. Someday soon I hope to read the 2nd in the series.

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    2. I can't find an ebook version--none on Amazon or Felony and Mayhem. :'(

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    3. Mathew, I just sent you an email requesting your address -- if you would like me to send you my copy, I will be glad to.

      The Becket Factor is probably not available at Felony and Mayhem because it was published several years ago, before they started making ebooks available.

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  6. So glad you enjoyed this one, and thanks for giving me a shoutout and quoting me. It is a neat little series.

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    1. The quote I used from your post, Moira, was perfect and I could not resist. I have been wanting a copy of the 2nd book in thies series but have disciplined myself to wait until the book sale just in case one is there... however unlikely.

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