For days, while reading and after reading this book, I could visualize every place and every event that happened. Clear and descriptive writing made this a joy to read. The ending is not expected, but made perfect sense. I have ordered more of her books to read in this series.
First Line: I was struggling against more than wind and rain that night as I battled through the Cathedral Close, but I blamed my mood on the weather.
American Dorothy Martin and her academic husband, Frank, had planned to retire to the cathedral/ university town of Sherebury, England. Unfortunately Frank died, and Dorothy made the move on her own. Still a new widow and a bit wobbly about being on her own, Dorothy is making steady progress at making friends and becoming a member of the community. Shortly after the Christmas Eve service in the cathedral, Dorothy literally stumbles over the body of Canon Billings, an argumentative man who had many more enemies than friends. Her discovery of the body makes Dorothy feel a sense of responsibility in helping discover the identity of Billings's killer. Little does she know that she's putting herself in harm's way.
Dorothy is a round little woman in her sixties who has a penchant for colorful, over-the-top hats:
"I made for it like a homing pigeon, and five minutes out of Victoria I was asleep. I would have slept right past my station if the guard hadn't remembered my hat from the morning and wakened me. There are some advantages to being conspicuous."
I enjoyed the depiction of her life in a new town and a new country, as any Anglophile would who's harbored daydreams of moving to England. The Body in the Transept is a pleasant cozy mystery, but it's really not very memorable for me. Nothing like damning a book with faint praise, is there? As in everything else, reading mileage varies greatly from book to book and from reader to reader. If you do enjoy cozies about an older American lady living in England, by all means give this book a try. Even though it wasn't my cup of tea, it may very well be yours.
Drawing on American sensibilities and English tradition, Dams's debut introduces widowed American sleuth Dorothy Martin, who will delight lovers of cozies set on both sides of the Atlantic. Dorothy has moved to the fictional university/ cathedral town of Sherebury, where she and her academic husband had planned to retire before his unexpected demise. After the Christmas Eve service in the Cathedral, Dorothy stumbles over the body of Canon Billings. Once she recovers her equilibrium, she finds herself feeling involved in the case and curious about the unpleasant but learned Canon, who had made more enemies than friends. He had recently argued vehemently with his young, hot-headed assistant in the library, had tried to get the choirmaster fired and was gathering evidence against the verger who was stealing from the collection plate. Dorothy charmingly insinuates herself into village life in the best Miss Marple tradition, talking to neighbors and befriending others (including widower Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt) and determinedly pursuing the killer even as she puts herself in danger. With her penchant for colorful hats, Dorothy establishes herself as a fresh, commanding, and always genteelpresence among female elder-sleuths of the '90s.
I wanted to love this first book in the series, but I have to describe it as just okay. None of the characters were all that interesting except Dorothy, who is very likable, if kind of goofy. Nothing is very memorable about the story, the detection, or the resolution of the murder.
In this first in Jeanne M. Dams Dorothy Martin Mystery series, The Body in the Transept is an Agatha Award Winner that introduces American Dorothy Martin who lives in the small cathedral and university town of Sherebury, England. She and her husband had moved there so that he could be associated with the university, but shortly after they moved, Frank died. Dorothy stayed on in their old, but cozy house with her cat she took in.
Dorothy has a natural ability for snooping around when things go awry, and on Christmas Eve at the cathedral, after a beautiful service, things did just that. Dorothy was leaving by a side entrance when she stumbled over something that just happened to be the body of Canon Billings with a heavy candlestick laying nearby. The police questioned Dorothy and she especially is in conversations with town Chief Constable Alan Nesbitt.
Dorothy has her own ideas about what might have happened and goes about her own investigation much to the disapproval of Nesbitt and the whole police department.
This is a wonderful start to a series that I intend to finish to the end. 5 stars for The Body in the Transept.